Shanghai to start lifting 2-month COVID-19 lockdown on Wednesday

Shanghai authorities announced on Wednesday they would take major steps to reopen China’s largest city after a two-month COVID-19 lockdown that strangled the national economy and largely locked millions of people in their homes. houses.

Full bus and subway service will be restored, as will basic rail connections to the rest of China, Vice Mayor Zong Ming said at a daily press briefing on the city’s outbreak on Tuesday.

“The outbreak has been effectively brought under control,” she said, adding that the city would begin the process of fully restoring work and life on Wednesday.

Schools will partially reopen on a voluntary basis for students and malls, supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies will continue to reopen gradually with a maximum of 75% of full capacity. Cinemas and sports halls will remain closed.

Commuters wearing face masks wait at an intersection on a popular shopping street in Shanghai on Tuesday. (Chen Si/Associated Press)

Officials, who set June 1 as the target date for reopening earlier in May, appear poised to accelerate what has been a gradual easing in recent days.

A few malls and markets have reopened and some residents have been given passes allowing them to go out for a few hours at a time.

In online chat groups, some expressed excitement at being able to move freely around the city for the first time since late March, while others remained cautious given the slow pace and nature intermittent opening. far.

Falling barriers

Workers were dismantling some of the barriers that had been erected along sidewalks during the lockdown. A few people walked or cycled through the still mostly empty streets.

More than half a million people in the city of 25 million people will still not be allowed out on Wednesday, as 190,000 of them are in closed areas and another 450,000 in control zones in due to recent cases.

Shanghai recorded 29 new cases on Monday, continuing a steady decline from more than 20,000 a day in April. At a meeting on Monday, Li Qiang, the top official of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Shanghai, reportedly said the city had made major progress in fighting the epidemic through continuous struggle.

Success had a price. Authorities have imposed a suffocating citywide lockdown as part of China’s “zero-COVID” strategy, which aims to snuff out any outbreak with mass testing and isolation in centralized facilities of anyone infected .

However, the latest economic data showed that Chinese manufacturing activity started to rebound in May as the government rolled back some lockdown measures.

Workers in protective gear disinfect a classroom in a Shanghai school on Monday to prepare for the resumption of classes. (cnsphoto/REUTERS)

Schools will reopen for the last two years of high school and the third year of middle school, but students can decide to attend in person. The other classes and kindergarten remain closed.

Outdoor tourist sites will begin to reopen on Wednesday, with indoor sites expected to follow in late June, the Shanghai tourism authority said. Group visits from other provinces will be allowed again when the city has cleared all high and medium risk pandemic areas.

Beijing, the national capital, further eased restrictions in some districts on Tuesday. The city has imposed limited lockdowns, but nothing near a citywide level, in a much smaller outbreak that appears to be on the decline. Beijing recorded 18 new cases on Monday.