Dynamic zero-covid policy
Return to normal


The "epidemic period", which has never been defined by Chinese law or the government, might have come to an end. Starting from 8 January 2023, the Chinese central government downgraded the management of the covid-19 disease from class A to class B and removed it from the quarantinable infectious disease management system. In early and mid-January 2023, many major cities in China officially announced that the covid-19 infection peak has passed.

Soon after the National Health Commission released the 20 Measures on Covid control on 11 November 2022, signalling the trends of the central government to loosen the zero covid-19 policy from the previous three years, the national authority further issued the 10 Measures on 7 December 2022 with more specific provisions to move forward with looser restrictions on covid-19 control. For example, no more centralised quarantine is required for infected of mild and asymptomatic cases or close contacts; these cases have been allowed to quarantine at home since December 2022.

Dynamic zero covid-19 policy

Before the recent changes, China had implemented a dynamic zero covid-19 policy. Under such policy, Shanghai, the financial hub of China, went into complete lockdown for two months in Spring 2022, and in Beijing and other cities, partial lockdowns were also ordered on several occasions in 2022.

Starting from the early age of covid-19 and especially in 2022, the Chinese government issued multiple relief measures for employers to stabilise growth, including steps to expand the amount of tax relief and offer businesses deferrals in their payments of social security contributions. However, the unemployment rate in urban areas was surging. According to the data released by the government, unemployment reached a 32-month high of 6.1% in April 2022 – the government's target was less than 5.5% for 2022. The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds was reportedly at 18.2% in April 2022.

Under China's dynamic zero covid-19 policy before 7 January 2023, employers faced many challenges navigating employment during the pandemic, including that:

  • the salary for confirmed, suspected or close contact cases had to be paid as normal;
  • reductions in the workforce were under additional scrutiny from the labour authorities and the courts;
  • international and domestic business travel was very time-consuming or not possible; and
  • working from home made it more difficult to manage employees' work hours and performance.

Return to normal

Although employers and employees in China may have already got used to the covid-19 control requirements and the difficulties caused by covid-19, employment and human resource management in China is expected to return to normal in 2023. Some legacy issues for employers and employees remain, such as growing demand for more flexible work arrangements, and distributed workforce or "telecommuting" employees becoming more common.

For further information on this topic please contact Yuhao Chang at JunHe by email ([email protected]). The JunHe website can be accessed at