Hard to believe this is actually happening: Shanghai lifts COVID lockdown


  • Shanghai removes lockout fences and police tape
  • Lockdown is due to expire at midnight in two months
  • Many are worried about COVID, the risks of being shut down again

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Shanghai authorities on Tuesday began dismantling fences around apartment complexes and tearing police tapes from plazas and public buildings to relief the city’s 25 million residents before lifting a painful two-month lockdown at midnight.

On Monday evening, some people who were allowed out of their compounds to walk for a short time took advantage of a traffic stop to gather for beer and ice cream in the deserted streets, but there was a sense of anxiety and anxiety among residents.

“I’m feeling a little nervous,” said Joseph Mack, who works in education. “It’s hard to believe this actually happened.”

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Most of them will be stuck in their homes again until midnight, as they have been for the past two months under a strict lockdown that has led to income losses and caused stress and desperation for millions struggling to get food or access emergency health care.

The prolonged isolation sparked public anger and rare protests inside Shanghai and hurt the city’s industrial and export-heavy economy, disrupting supply chains in China and around the world, and slowing international trade.

Life is set to return to semblance of normal from Wednesday, when permits from residential buildings for people to go out for a few hours will be rescinded, public transportation will resume and residents can return to work.

“This is a day we have dreamed of for a very long time,” Shanghai government spokeswoman Yin Xin told reporters.

Yin said daily online press conferences will be halted as her colleagues, who have lived on the site for the past two months as required by COVID rules, will return home after midnight.

“Everyone sacrificed so much. This has been a difficult day, and we need to cherish and protect him, and welcome back to the Shanghai we know and miss.”

Near a stream in Shanghai on Tuesday, a spiced goose shop was restocking shelves; Bar was doing renovations at the last minute; Cleaners were cleaning shop windows.

Restrictions will be eased for about 22.5 million people in low-risk areas. Residents will still have to wear masks and avoid gatherings. Eating inside restaurants is still prohibited. Shops can operate at 75%. Gyms will reopen at a later time. Read more

Residents will have to take tests every 72 hours to use public transportation and enter public spaces. Severe quarantine remains in store for anyone who catches COVID and their close contacts.

careful lock

Only China is among the major countries implementing a “zero COVID” policy to stem the outbreak at almost any cost.

A high-transition Omicron variant is subject to return.

Julian McCormack, president of the British Chamber of China, said Shanghai has taken control of COVID “at a very significant personal and economic cost”.

“What has changed materially to ensure that this does not happen again?” he asked. “This is where the uncertainty lies.”

Todd Pearson, managing director of Camel Hospitality Group, which operates some restaurants, bars and gyms in and around Shanghai, is concerned.

His restaurants can only deliver orders, which bring in 5% of revenue, not enough to pay salaries and rent. At least from midnight his workers sleeping on the site can finally go home.

“I hope they speed up to rebuild the economy,” Pearson said. “I just hope it doesn’t come at the cost of more outbreaks. I’m not sure many companies or people can handle more.”

Economic activity in China recovered somewhat in May from dreary April as COVID restrictions in major manufacturing hubs were gradually eased, although movement controls still squeezed demand and curbed production. Read more

Fun with the media

Shanghai reported 31 cases on May 30, down from 67 the day before, reflecting a downward trend across China to fewer than 200 infections nationwide, a fraction of what most other countries reported.

The end of Shanghai’s lockdown does not mean a return to pre-coronavirus livelihoods.

Some bank clerks said they will have to wear full protective suits and face shields when they begin to face the public from Wednesday. One employee said he would take some essential supplies to work, in case a colleague tests positive and employees are required to isolate in the office.

The lockdown sparked rare protests, with people sometimes banging pots and pans outside their windows to express their displeasure with the crackdown, and many of them sharing frustrated interactions with authorities on social media.

The public displays of discontent come during a sensitive year for President Xi Jinping, who is expected to secure a third term in office this fall.

One complex hung a Chinese flag for residents to take pictures with as they line up for another PCR test before reopening.

“It’s worth celebrating,” said one volunteer at the testing site, who was more optimistic about COVID than those who had their noses swabbed. “We probably won’t get it again in the rest of our lives.”

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Additional reporting by David Stanway, Winnie Zhou, Brenda Goh, Weifan Wang, David Carton, Alby Zhang, Stella Q, Beijing and Shanghai offices; Written by Marius Zacharia. Editing by Michael Perry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.