Shanghai Lockdown is Finally Relaxed But Stringent Testing Still Required
Shanghai eased its lockdown restrictions 1 June 2022, following continuous low cases reported.

Sixty five days after one of the toughest lockdowns in the world, China has eased COVID-19 restrictions on its financial hub, Shanghai, on Wednesday – finally allowing the majority of its 25 million residents to move freely again.

However, at least 890,000 residents are confined at home, in “quarantine” or “control zones”. 

The announcement to lift restrictions came as official figures showed on Sunday that daily new coronavirus cases fell from 170 to 122 in a 24-hour period. The city reported just 13 cases for Wednesday, and an additional 7 cases on Thursday.

This is a marked turnaround from the beginning of April, when tens of thousands of cases were reported daily. 

“This is a day that we dreamed of for a very long time,” Shanghai government spokeswoman Yin Xin told the BBC

China to maintain ‘zero tolerance’ policy 

Shanghai residents will be required to hold a negative nucleic acid test result taken within 72 hours of entering public spaces or using public transportation from June

But while China seems to have moved into the clear with COVID, the country is keen to maintain its “zero tolerance” policy, and is already preparing for future waves

Beijing municipal officials said Thursday that 12 of its planned 14 ‘transition hubs’ will be used to test and disinfect all imported frozen food before goods are distributed across the city. 

This follows China’s contention that frozen food could transmit COVID-19 in while the World Health Organization’s independent panel on the virus’s origins favour an unknown animal vector as the most likely cause, while others have pointed to laboratory accident for the spread of the coronavirus first found in bats in China.

Tens of thousands of testing booths will also be set up across China’s largest cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and technological hub Shenzhen, to require testing as often as every 48 hours.  

New rules in Shanghai will now require residents to show a green health code on their smartphone, with proof of a negative PCR test in the last 72 hours, to leave their residential compounds and enter most places, including banks, malls, and public transportation.  

However, cinemas, museums, and gyms remain closed, as well as in-person schooling. 

Restrictions on leaving the city still remain, with anyone traveling to another city facing a quarantine of seven to 14 days upon return. 

Beijing also lifted its restrictions earlier this week, following similar protocol with some of its public transportation system, malls, and other venues opening up. 

Shanghai testing centers tested by overcapacity and staff shortages

Shanghai testing center

Shanghai’s 72-hour rule has tested the capacity of its testing centers, as crowds flocked to the 15,000 stations. While some said their test took only a matter of minutes, others complained that they had to wait over an hour to test. 

Many testing booths are only open for about three hours each in the morning and afternoon, although some hospitals offer a 24-hour service. 

Shanghai resident Zhang Zehong told Sixth Tone that she was unable to test Wednesday as the station in her neighborhood closed two hours earlier than shown on the city’s health code app, which features all the testing centers. Instead, she went to a hospital with a 24-hour service Thursday morning, only to find no staff and a line that stretched on for over 100 meters. 

So many issues need to be fixed,” Zhang said.

Chinese microblogging platform Weibo also featured complaints with the stations.

“It’s been very hot recently, several people passed out when standing (in line),” one Weibo user wrote.

“I visited five sites but each had long queues. This is not really humane enough. Don’t these mobile kiosks cause more people to gather?” another Weibo user wrote.

Fifty-point plan to revive Shanghai economy 

A fifty-point plan has also been drawn up to support Shanghai’s economy, crippled in the wake of closures, quarantines, and lockdowns. 

New measures include reducing taxes for car buyers, speeding up the issuance of local government bonds, and fast-tracked approval of building projects. Drivers who also switch to an electric vehicle will also be able to claim a $1500 subsidy.

Businesses may also be able to delay insurance and rent payments, with subsidies available for utility charges.

Image Credits: Appriseug/Twitter , DA Trade Market Securities/Twitter , Don Weinland/Twitter.

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