Shanghai will gradually start reopening businesses such as shopping malls and hair salons in China’s financial and manufacturing hub from Monday after weeks of strict COVID-19 lockdown, while Beijing battles a small but stubborn outbreak.
- Vice Mayor Chen Tong gave a briefing on COVID-19 on Sunday
- Malls, department stores and supermarkets will begin to resume in-store operations
- Hair salons and vegetable markets will reopen with limited capacity
Almost closed for more than six weeks, Shanghai is tightening restrictions in some areas it hopes will mark a final push in its campaign against the virus, which has infuriated and exhausted residents of China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city.
Malls, department stores and supermarkets will begin to resume in-store operations and allow customers to shop “in an orderly fashion”, while hair salons and vegetable markets will reopen with limited capacity, said Vice Mayor Chen Tong at a press conference on Sunday.
He gave no details on the pace or extent of those reopenings, and many residents online reacted with skepticism.
“Who are you lying to? We can’t even get out of our compound. You can open, nobody can go in,” said a user of Weibo, a Chinese Twitter account, whose IP address said it was from from Shanghai.
During Shanghai’s lockdown, residents were mostly limited to shopping for basic necessities, with normal shopping on online platforms largely suspended due to a shortage of couriers.
And while barbers and hairdressers have had their hair cut on the streets or in the open areas of housing complexes, residents recently able to leave their homes for a few hours at a time to walk or buy groceries are generally appeared more disheveled than usual.
China’s strict ‘dynamic zero’ approach to COVID has put hundreds of millions of people in dozens of cities under varying degrees of curbs in a bid to eliminate the spread of the disease. .
Restrictions are wreaking havoc on the world’s second-largest economy even as most countries attempt to return to normal life despite lingering infections.
New bank lending hit its lowest level in nearly four and a half years in April as the pandemic rattled the economy and weakened demand for credit, central bank data showed on Friday.
The Asian Football Confederation said on Saturday that China had withdrawn from hosting the 2023 Asian Cup finals due to the COVID crisis.
This followed China’s cancellation or postponement of many international sporting events it was due to hold in the second half of 2022.
The soccer tournament decision sparked speculation on social media in China that its zero-COVID policy could persist until next year.
China managed to keep COVID at bay after it was discovered in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, but struggled to contain the highly infectious Omicron variant.
The head of the World Health Organization said last week that China’s approach was not “sustainable”.
But the country is widely expected to stick to its approach at least until the congress of the ruling Communist Party, historically held in the fall, where President Xi Jinping is set to get an unprecedented third five-year term.
The number of cases in Shanghai continued to improve, with 1,369 symptomatic and asymptomatic daily infections reported, down from 1,681 the previous day.
Crucially, the city reported no new cases outside quarantine zones after finding one a day earlier. Consistently achieving zero cases outside quarantine zones is a key factor for officials to determine when they can reopen the city.
Shanghai has hit its goal of zero COVID in less populated suburban neighborhoods and started easing restrictions there first, like allowing shoppers into supermarkets.
But it has continued to tighten restrictions in many areas over the past two weeks, particularly in the city center, cutting deliveries and putting up more fencing.
Across most of Beijing, restaurants were closed for dinner and residents were told to stay or work from home. Parks and other places of entertainment have been closed, sending many people to the streets or to the gardens of their homes to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
In the greater Chaoyang district, residents have been reminded by text messages and in some cases door knocking to take their daily COVID test as the capital scrambles to cut the chains of infection.
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