Shanghai lockdown: China eases Covid restrictions after two months | Ratopati

JUNE 1: At midnight local time (16:00 GMT Tuesday), restrictions were relaxed to allow most people to move freely around the city of some 25 million people.

But at least 650,000 residents will remain confined to their homes.

China’s overall policy of “zero Covid” remains in place and people catching Covid face quarantine or hospital.

Their close contacts also face the prospect of removal to quarantine and the area immediately around where they live being locked down again.

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

“Everyone has sacrificed a lot. This day has been hard-won and we need to cherish and protect it, and welcome back the Shanghai we are familiar with and missed.”

E-commerce professional Chen Ying was planning to work from home after the lockdown was eased, but she told AFP news agency she might treat her two-year-old son to a long-awaited walk outside.

“We should have been free to begin with, so don’t expect me to be deeply grateful now they’ve given it back to us,” she added.

Lockdown has seen many residents lose income, struggle to find enough food and cope mentally with prolonged isolation.

Manufacturers including Western car makers Volkswagen and Tesla have been particularly impacted by the restrictions as staff were kept away from factories or had to work in “closed loop” conditions, where they lived at the plants.

A basic service resumed on public transport on Wednesday, and shops opened with larger ones operating at 75% capacity, but cinemas, museums and gyms remain closed.

Most children will not return to face-to-face schooling.

There are new rules too:

-All residents will be required to show a green health code on their smartphone to leave their home compounds or buildings and access most places

-All residents wishing to move around the city on public transport and access banks, malls etc will be required to have a negative PCR test certificate valid in the last 72 hours

-Restrictions on leaving Shanghai remain, with any resident travelling to another city facing quarantine of 7-14 days on arrival

The city has a 50-point plan aimed at revitalising its economy, which before the lockdown was worth more than $600bn (£475bn).

New measures include reducing some taxes for car buyers, speeding up the issuance of local government bonds and fast-tracking approvals of building projects.

Big bang for Shanghai

It was supposed to last just nine days -a staggered lockdown to lessen the impact on Shanghai’s economy, state media said.

It lasted 65 days. It crippled the city and scarred its people.

Restrictions are now being eased as quickly as they were imposed. There’s no gradual process over several weeks. Instead there’s a big bang – one day when most of the emergency rules and regulations are simply being lifted.

The relief is immense – for generations of some families who’ve lived together behind a locked front door for more than two months; for workers who’ve lived in tents inside factories where they’ve carried on working; for the shop and restaurant owners whose livelihood ground to a halt; for the thousands of people forced to leave their homes and sent to quarantine centres.

And for the almost 25 million people who live here.

The rigidity of the lockdown caused much frustration in the city.

Marketing professional Anita Xu, 32, felt “a little caught unawares”. “Even if you can go out, I don’t know what you can do,” she told AFP.

But Todd Pearson, managing director of Camel Hospitality Group, which operates restaurants, bars and gyms in and around Shanghai, sounded a cautious note when he spoke to Reuters news agency.

“I’m hopeful that they will rush things along to restart the economy,” he said. “I just hope it’s not at the cost of more outbreaks. I’m not sure many businesses or the people could handle much more.”

China has registered at least 14,604 deaths and 2,426,568 cases of Covid during the pandemic, with nearly 90% of its population fully vaccinated.

Worldwide, Covid has killed at least 6,289,241 people, according to John Hopkins University research.

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