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China's capital Beijing to lower COVID-19 response

People wear protective face masks as they are seen in a shopping complex after an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing will lower the emergency response level of the coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese capital to Level III from level II starting on July 20, a municipal government official said on Sunday.

The city issued the second level response on June 16 after a cluster of new coronavirus cases was found to be linked to Xinfadi, a major wholesale food market in a southwestern district of Beijing.

Since June 11, Beijing has recorded a total of 335 cases linked to Xinfadi, but no new cases have been reported in the past two weeks.

“Overall, the risks of getting coronavirus infection in Beijing...and exporting to other regions are low, and the general situation of tackling the pandemic is under control,” said Liu Bei, vice secretary of the Beijing Municipal government, told a news conference.

After lowering the coronavirus response, Beijing will reopen parks, tourism sites, gyms, libraries and museums, but will cap the number of visitors at 50% of capacity.

Conferences with no more than 500 participants will be allowed, while exhibitions, sports matches and cinemas are also expected to reopen gradually, Liu said.

Meanwhile, underground spaces with poor ventilation will be banned from being used for business while wholesale markets, restaurants, construction sites and factories will continue to be strictly monitored for the coronavirus.

Reporting by Muyu Xu, Xu Jing and Ryan Woo; Editing by William Mallard and Jacqueline Wong