SHanghai, which will allow people living in low-risk areas for Covid-19 to move about the city without restriction and resume public transport from Wednesday in an important step in its attempts to end a two-month long lockdown.
In a statement issued Monday by the municipality, taxi and ride hailing service, along with private cars will all be allowed to use roads in low-risk zones. Meanwhile, bus, subway, ferry and other services will continue as normal, according to the government. Millions of people will also be able to leave their housing compounds and neighborhoods freely — without the limited time passes or activity restrictions previously in place — although restaurant dining-in is still banned.
The easing comes as China’s worst outbreak since the pathogen first emerged in Wuhan wanes, with just 31 Covid cases, all in government-run isolation centers, reported in Shanghai for Monday. The sweeping moves, which will apply to around 22.5 million of the city’s 25 million population, lays the groundwork for a fuller return to normalcy, even as China remains committed to a Covid policy that deploys harsh restrictions whenever infections flare.
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Shanghaiers reacted with songs and cheers from their apartments to the news, while others set off fireworks on their balconies. WeChat was flooded by messages and comments on social media, and people were discussing when and where they’d meet to have drinks or dinner.
But the city’s situation is not normal. There’s no plan yet for venues like gyms, cinemas and karaoke parlors to reopen, and most students are still at home with only selected grades allowed to return to schools. Many factories and businesses are operating in an onerous “closed loop” systems in which workers must live on-site or in nearby accommodation to limit infection risk.
On May 30, 2022, customers can pick up their orders in a Starbucks shop in Shanghai.
VCG via Getty Images—2022 VCG
Shanghai residents are required to submit to PCR testing on a daily basis as they travel around the city. This is a way for the financial centre of Shanghai and the Financial Center hopes that future outbreaks will be prevented.
China’s Monday infection report was less than 100 across the nation. This marks the first time in China since March 2, that it has had to reduce the number of infections to such an extent. Beijing has also seen a decline in the number of cases, with 18 Covid-related infections being reported on Monday. The capital has resumed public transportation and some of the restrictions on movement have been lifted.
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As long China continues to follow its Covid Zero strategy, the risk of curbs being reverted remains. Policy makers at the national level and in Shanghai have unveiled various tax breaks and stimulus measures, but have not addressed the fundamental uncertainty around the re-occurrence of lockdowns that underpins anxiety over the world’s second-largest economy’s prospects.
“Beyond Shanghai, restrictions on inter-regional mobility mean that supply-chain snarls will not disappear overnight,” wrote Bloomberg Economics Chief Asia Economist Chang Shu in a Tuesday note. “A retreat in virus infections allowed Shanghai to begin reopening. But with China’s Covid-Zero stance still firmly in place, the risk of new restrictions to fight fresh flareups hangs over the economy.”
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