Shanghai to end 2-month COVID lockdown on June 1


Shanghai on Monday announced the end of its two-month COVID-19 lockdown, allowing the vast majority of residents of China’s largest city to leave their homes and drive their cars from Wednesday.

The news brought a wave of relief, joy and some wariness from exhausted residents.

“I’m so moved I’m going to cry,” said one Weibo user.

Most of the city’s 25million residents have been confined to their homes for almost all of the lockdown which began April 1, with curbs only eased slightly in recent weeks to allow some out for short periods of time. periods.

Earlier this month, local authorities said they planned to fully restore normal life by next month, but it was unclear how they would achieve this amid an insistence on getting away with it. stick to China’s zero-COVID policy.

Some locals greeted the news with disbelief, reflecting on how what was originally supposed to be a five-day lockdown has turned into a much longer ordeal than expected.

“Please don’t lie to me,” one person posted on social media. “I’m numb,” said another.

The easing of curbs only applies to low-risk areas, which are home to around 22.3million people, according to government data. People will still be required to wear masks and are discouraged from gathering and encouraged to get vaccinated.

Authorities did not say whether activities such as dining out would be allowed.

Following the announcement, Li Qiang, head of Shanghai’s Communist Party and an ally of President Xi Jinping, said the city’s authorities and residents had “passed the test under extreme conditions and accomplished the arduous task”.

QUESTIONS REMAIN

The citywide lockdown has fueled public anger and rare protests, as well as supply chains and the Chinese economy.

Residents strongly criticized the city government for its communication during much of the period. On Sunday, Shanghai announced it was lifting restrictions on reopening businesses, but gave no indication at the time of how it would lift other lockdown measures.

It was also unclear whether businesses, shops and supermarkets needed to continue to adhere to a “closed-loop” management system to reopen. Companies have called these requirements problematic because they have to find ways for workers to sleep on site and carry out regular disinfection.

“Shanghai has suffered a huge setback and lost its luster during the two months of strict containment measures. Although the road to normality is long, these new measures indicate the priority given to Shanghai’s economic recovery,” said Bettina Schoen-Behanzin, Vice-President of the European Union. Chamber of Commerce in China.

BEIJIING EASING

China’s “zero COVID” policy aimed at eradicating epidemics is at odds with other countries that have chosen to live with the virus, and the lack of an exit strategy has worried investors.

New daily cases in China number in the hundreds compared to tens of thousands in many Western countries.

In Beijing, which is battling its own smaller outbreak, the streets were busier on Monday as more residents returned to work and restrictions on public transportation were eased. But officials said the emergence of a new case outside quarantine zones after three clear days showed the daunting task of suppressing COVID.

Beijing had reported no cases in the community for three straight days – the best streak since its current outbreak began in late April – until a new case surfaced on Monday.

“There was a new outbreak today, indicating that Beijing’s ‘zero momentum’ mission is arduous and we need to be constantly on alert,” municipal government spokesman Xu Hejian told a conference. Press.

Beijing’s Fangshan and Shunyi districts ended work-from-home rules on Monday, while the requirement was also largely dropped in the city’s largest district, Chaoyang. Public transport has mostly resumed in all three areas.

Libraries, museums, theaters and gymnasiums were allowed to reopen on Sunday, but with limits on the number of people, in districts that have seen no community cases of COVID for seven consecutive days. Yet dining out is banned across the city.

Shanghai reported less than 100 new COVID cases for May 29, while Beijing recorded 12. Nationwide, China reported 184 new cases, down from 293.

While there have been signs that economic activity is picking up somewhat after a dismal April, the strength and durability of any rebound largely depends on how COVID unfolds.

$52 BILLION ON TESTING AND MONITORING

China hopes frequent mass COVID testing will allow them to detect future outbreaks at an early stage and aims to have testing facilities within a 15-minute walk of everyone in its major cities.

The government is on track to spend more than $52 billion this year on testing, new medical facilities, monitoring equipment and other anti-COVID measures, which will benefit as many as 3,000 businesses, analysts say. (Reporting by Brenda Goh, Winni Zhou and Casey Hall in Shanghai; Yifan Wang and Ryan Woo in Beijing; and Beijing and Shanghai bureaus; Writing by Marius Zaharia and John Geddie; Editing by Michael Perry and Angus MacSwan)

© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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