Shanghai is set for the most dramatic easing of Covid-19 restrictions since it was locked down more than two months ago, after authorities said it would resume public transport and reopen shops from Wednesday.
Officials unveiled the changes, which eliminate the need for residents of low-risk housing estates to get approval to leave their homes by the June 1 deadline, paving the way for a gradual reopening in cities where restrictions still prevail.
Barricades designed to keep people inside buildings were removed this week, and a handful of citizens returned to recently deserted streets as part of the nation’s most high-profile lockdown. China Since the closure of Wuhan in 2020.
The easing marks a shift in tone in the country’s largest city, reflecting the government’s renewed commitment across the country Zero Outbreak Policy despite their increasing social and economic costs.
“Tomorrow, our city will usher in a new beginning,” Yin Xin, a spokesman for the Shanghai government, said on Tuesday. “It’s a day we’ve been waiting for and paying the price for.”
However, residents of communities with coronavirus cases in the past 14 days will remain in lockdown, restaurants will remain closed and shops will operate at limited capacity, underscoring that in a city that has put in place extensive precautions, Preliminary process of reopening.
Shanghai initially imposed a lockdown on March 28 that was supposed to last eight days in both halves of the city, but was extended as part of a process marked by uncertainty.
Although authorities said in mid-April that they would reopen the compound, which has had no cases in the past two weeks, many residents are still detained for not being able to obtain the written approval they need to go out. As of Wednesday, no such approval will be required.
A social media announcement from the Shanghai government this week clarified that the management committees of districts, towns, and compounds “should not restrict access to community residents for any reason” unless they are in medium-high-risk areas with recent cases, or the closure of quarantine areas area.
“We’re in a place where words and activities meet,” said Peter Alexander, managing director of Shanghai-based fund consultancy Z-Ben. Alexander said he was drinking champagne on the streets of Jing’an’s central district, where dozens of people .
“What really happened was that nobody in Shanghai wanted to take responsibility,” he said. “You have neighborhoods, districts, streets, cities, and nobody wants to take responsibility for opening up for fear that there might be another surge.”
Shanghai reported zero positive infections outside the quarantine zone on Tuesday, including 29 cases.
Data on Wednesday showed Chinese manufacturing activity contracted in May, but at a slower pace than in April, while Apple supplier Foxconn said it was confident supply chains would recover in the second half of the year.
Authorities will also allow citizens in low-risk areas to return to work from Wednesday. A white-collar professional surnamed Yi in Shanghai, who received an offer from a biotech company before the lockdown, said she was first called to work on Wednesday. “It was all so sudden,” she said. “I don’t think I’m ready to meet my colleagues.”
Additional reporting by Wang Xueqiao in Shanghai