CONCLUSION 1-Beijing speeds up COVID quarantine, Shanghai residents decry unequal rules


* Some 1,800 Beijing residents sent to quarantine in Hebei – media

* Vice Premier Sun Chunlan inspects Beijing’s anti-COVID efforts

* Reduced curbs mean respite, not economic turning point – Nomura

By Ryan Woo and Engen Tham

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, May 24 (Reuters) – Beijing has stepped up quarantine efforts to end its month-old COVID outbreak as fresh signs of frustration emerged in Shanghai, where some have lamented unfair restrictions, the city of 25 million preparing to lift an extended lockdown in just over a week.

Even as China’s drastic attempts to completely eradicate COVID – its “zero-COVID” approach – bite into the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy, reported new infection numbers remain well below levels seen in many cities. Western. The capital reported 48 new cases among its population of 22 million on Monday, with Shanghai reporting less than 500.

Still, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called for deeper measures to reduce virus transmission and adhere to the nation’s zero COVID policy during an inspection tour in Beijing, the agency reported on Tuesday. Xinhua State.

The situation in Beijing was manageable, but containment efforts cannot ease, she said, according to Xinhua.

In an example of the stringency of Beijing’s approach, around 1,800 people from one area of ​​the city were relocated to Zhangjiakou city in neighboring Hebei province to be quarantined there, the report said. Beijing Daily, state-backed.

Instructions are still in place for residents of six of the capital’s 16 districts to work from home, while three other districts are encouraging people to follow such measures, with each district responsible for implementing its own guidelines.

Beijing had already reduced public transport, asking some shopping malls and other places to close and seal buildings where new cases had been detected.

In Shanghai, authorities plan to keep most restrictions in place this month, before a more comprehensive lifting of the two-month lockdown from June 1. Even then, public places will have to limit the flow of people to 75% of their capacity.

“Let’s strike”

With Shanghai officially declared a zero-COVID city, some authorities have allowed more people to leave their homes for brief periods over the past week, and more supermarkets and pharmacies have been allowed to reopen and make deliveries.

But other lower-level officials separately tightened restrictions in some neighborhoods, ordering residents to go indoors to cement progress made so far in the city’s latest round of exiting the lockdown.

This has led to frustration and complaints of unequal treatment from some residents.

While zero-COVID status outlines the entire city and residents of some compounds have been allowed in and out of their homes freely, others have been told they can only be out for a few hours, and many of those stuck inside were said nothing.

Videos circulating on social media this week showed residents arguing with officials to be released from their residential compounds.

The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A resident told Reuters that people in his compound had decided on social media platform WeChat to go out in groups.

“Let’s knock on our door tonight demanding that we be allowed out like many other compounds in the neighborhood,” he quoted one of his neighbors during the group chat.

A video he later shared showed a group of people arguing at the entrance to the compound with a man who described himself as a sub-district official, who was asking residents to come inside and chat. of the situation.

“Don’t bother with him,” one person said as some people socialized outside the compound.

Residents of at least two other compounds planned to try to get out despite not being told they were allowed to do so, residents said.

ECONOMIC RESPITE?

At a time when most other countries are adopting patterns of living with the virus, China’s COVID measures are causing damage to its economy and disrupting global supply chains.

Many analysts expect the economy to contract in the second quarter, even though China’s overall COVID situation and economic activity have improved this month compared to April.

To support the economy, China will expand tax credit refunds, defer social security payments by small businesses and loan repayments, and roll out new investment projects, among other measures, Chinese television said. state citing the cabinet.

In a positive signal for Shanghai, electric vehicle giant Tesla expects to reach production levels similar to those before the lockdown at its plant in the city on Tuesday, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Nomura analysts estimate that 26 Chinese cities were implementing full or partial shutdowns or other COVID measures as of May 23, representing 208 million people and 20.5% of China’s economic output. That would be down from 271 million the previous week and 27% of production.

“But for us, this is just a respite instead of a turning point,” the analysts wrote in a note. They said passing a turning point would depend exclusively on an exit from the zero-COVID strategy, and not so much on the number of daily cases and monthly activity data. (Reporting by Engen Tham, Casey Hall, Zhang Yan, Winni Zhou and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Ryan Woo and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; and Beijing and Shanghai bureaus; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)