China will step up financial support for small private companies in the catering and tourism sectors, hard hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, the country’s banking and insurance regulator said in a statement on Tuesday.

The contact-intensive services sector suffered the most in the context of China’s anti-virus measures, which closed many restaurants and restricted tourist travel.

After the National Health Commission announced Monday that China would end quarantine requirements for incoming travelers starting Jan. 8, many citizens were flocking to places of travel on Tuesday before borders reopened.

“Recovery and expansion of consumption will be a priority,” the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said.

The purchase of high-value items such as new energy vehicles and eco-friendly appliances will be encouraged.

China will also step up financial support for private investment and private companies, the regulator added.

Economic officials have laid out plans to expand domestic consumption and investment following the easing of strict COVID-related restrictions and a consequent rise in infections.

In a context of prolonged weakness in the real estate sector, the committee committed to meeting reasonable financing needs and improving the balance sheets of the main developers.

The regulator will also proactively respond to risks of deterioration in the quality of credit assets and will encourage banks to strengthen the elimination of non-performing loans, according to the statement.

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