Chinese city of Xi’an imposes ‘strictest’ controls in effort to halt COVID-19 spread

On Monday, the Chinese city of Xi’an, which has already been locked down due to a rise in coronavirus cases, instituted tighter controls at the “strictest” level. New restrictions ban residents from driving cars around town in the effort to slow the country’s worst outbreak in nearly two years.

Thirteen million residents in the historic city of Xi’an are now facing more than five days of at-home confinement as the area is at the center of a steep increase in coronavirus cases. That flare-up has pushed the country’s daily new inflections to the highest numbers seen since March of 2020.

A city government social media account announced the tightened restrictions on Monday, saying Xi’an would impose the “strictest social control measures.”

The city, which is home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, saw 150 new cases on the day the restrictions were announced, raising the total cases to roughly 650 since December 9.

China has been trying to control the spread of the coronavirus by adopting a “zero-Covid” strategy. That policy included strict border restrictions, long quarantines, and targeted lockdowns. The measures come as Beijing is preparing to invite thousands of overseas visitors to the city for the Winter Olympics in February.

With the new measures in place, police and other health officials will “strictly inspect” cars to ensure that residents are complying. Those who are found in violation of the rules could face a 10-day detention as well as a fine of 500 yuan, which is the equivalent of $78.

Two other cities in the Shaanxi province also reported a case linked to those in Xi’an, and as a result, authorities have urged migrant workers from the city to not travel home for the upcoming Chinese New Year. 

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