Restaurants across Beijing will temporarily ban dining-in and residents will need clear Covid tests to visit public spaces, officials said today, in a major ramp up of virus controls at the start of the Labour Day holiday.

The five-day break is typically one of China's busiest travel periods, but the country's worst Covid resurgence since early in the pandemic is expected to keep people at home.

Faced with the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Chinese officials have doubled down on their zero-Covid policy, quashing virus clusters through mass testing and lockdowns.

Despite mounting economic costs and public frustration, the capital city announced it would further restrict access to public spaces during and after the holiday period.

From 1 to 4 May, the city's eateries will halt dining-in, and only allow deliveries, local commerce official Ding Jianhua told a press briefing today.

Authorities also said they have so far prepared 4,000 makeshift hospital beds - typically used for patients with light or no Covid symptoms - and are speeding up set-up of larger quarantine sites.

A negative Covid test taken within the past week will also be needed starting 5 May to enter "all kinds of public areas and to take public transport", according to a notice on the city's official WeChat page.

For activities such as sporting events and group travel, participants will also need to show a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours, along with proof of "full vaccination," according to the new rules.

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China reported more than 10,700 domestic Covid cases today, with most in economic engine Shanghai.
The eastern metropolis has been sealed off for around a month after becoming the epicentre of the latest outbreak.

Cases are trending downwards, yet frustration and anger is boiling in the city of 25 million where many have been ordered to stay at home for several weeks.

Shanghai officials said today that its new cases were all found among quarantined or restricted groups - signalling that community infections could be slowing.

They added that hundreds of companies on a "whitelist" have resumed work, with around 1,000 firms allowed to restart operations too, state media said.

In Beijing, cases nudged up to 54, according to the National Health Commission.

As the long holiday started, consumers in the capital were asked to show proof of negative Covid tests - from within 48 hours - to enter public areas such as malls, shops and scenic spots.

The city will make Covid testing free for residents starting on Tuesday, authorities said.

Spain extends land border closure with Morocco by 15 days

Spain has announced its two enclaves in North Africa, the EU's only land borders with the continent, would remain closed for 15 days, dashing hopes they would finally reopen after two years.

The frontiers of the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla were first shut in spring 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic and stayed closed during a diplomatic crisis in 2021 between Madrid and Rabat.

The borders were due to reopen today at midnight.

The border that separates Ceuta from Morocco

But an order published in the official gazette said they would remain shut for "15 days so that the conditions for the gradual and orderly reopening of border posts at the entry and exit of Ceuta and Melilla are concluded".

The Spanish interior ministry said the police force had been "strengthened" in the two enclaves.

During a landmark visit to Rabat on 8 April by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Spain and Morocco hailed a "new stage" in relations.

Mr Sanchez said one of the "main aims will be the restoration of goods and property at the border crossings of Ceuta and Melilla".

Ferries resumed between Morocco and Spain this month, with the first Spanish vessel docking in Tangiers port on 12 April after two years.

The diplomatic crisis began a year ago when Madrid allowed Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front which seeks independence for the territory of Western Sahara, to be treated for Covid-19 in a Spanish hospital.

A month later 10,000 migrants surged across the Moroccan border into Spain's Ceuta enclave as local border forces looked the other way, in what was widely seen as a punitive gesture by Rabat.

Last month, Spain ended the diplomatic crisis with Morocco by removing its decades-long stance of neutrality and backing Morocco's autonomy plan for the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

Rabat calls for the territory to have an autonomous status under Moroccan sovereignty but Polisario wants a referendum on self-determination under the supervision of the United Nations.