Shanghai hits prized 'zero COVID' status but lockdown lingers
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[May 17, 2022] By
David Stanway and Martin Quin Pollard
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) -Shanghai
achieved its long-awaited milestone of three consecutive days with no
new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine zones on Tuesday but most
residents will have to put up with confinement for a while longer before
resuming more normal life.
For other cities in China that have been under lockdown, three days with
no new cases in the community usually means "zero COVID" status and the
beginning of the lifting of restrictions.
The commercial hub of 25 million set out on Monday its clearest
timetable yet for exiting a lockdown now in its seventh week, but the
plan was met with scepticism by many residents who have seen isolation
extended time and again.
"Normality is very far away," said one Shanghai resident still stuck at
Shanghai plans to resume outdoor activities in stages, with some shops
reopening this week, but with most restrictions on movement remaining in
place until May 21, after which public transport and other services will
By June, the lockdown should be lifted, but residents will still be
asked to get tested frequently.
More people were allowed out of their homes this week, with some joggers
and dog walkers spotted. One man was seen fishing in a Shanghai creek.
But tall fences remained around many residential compounds and there
were almost no private cars on the streets, with most people still
confined to their homes.
It was not clear how many shops re-opened this week but in one positive
sign, delivery apps showed more options for people to order from on
A social media account run by the ruling Communist Party's official
People's Daily newspaper posted photographs on Monday evening that it
said showed breakfast joints, restaurants and hairdressers opening up.
But one social media user described the post as "nonsense".
"We have been locked in at home for two months ... This story is meant
for anyone else other than people in Shanghai."
By Tuesday morning, the post had been deleted.
A video posted by another state-backed media outlet announced the
reopening of a grocery store, showing about 10 members of staff in
hazmat suits making heart shapes with their hands, but only two people
who looked like shoppers.
A sign on the shop's door said customers must present a negative COVID
test and a pass showing they are allowed out of their home, among other
Overall, Shanghai reported fewer than 1,000 new cases for May 16, all in
areas under the strictest controls.
China's uncompromising "zero-COVID" policy has placed hundreds of
millions of consumers and workers under various restrictions at a time
when the rest of the world is lifting them to "live with the virus" even
as infections spread.
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Bicycles from a bike-sharing service block a street during lockdown,
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Shanghai,
China, May 16, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song
Data this week showed the havoc wreaked on the
economy by Shanghai's lockdown and the curbs in dozens of other
major cities, with retail sales and industrial output plunging at
their fastest pace in more than two years in April.
The capital Beijing saw a 16% plunge in retail sales in April, the
beginning of its current outbreak, according to Reuters calculations
based on January-April data released on Tuesday. Property sales
The American Chamber of Commerce warned that COVID
controls would hamper foreign investment in China for years to come
as travel curbs disrupt due diligence on projects. Big firms are
also exploring alternatives for supply chains, it said.
China's slowing economy will struggle to stage the kind of stunning
recovery it achieved from the early depths of the pandemic two years
ago, analysts and policy insiders say.
But China's state planner said on Tuesday it would strengthen
support for manufacturers, the service sector and small firms to
mitigate COVID's impact.
A meeting convened by China's top political consultative body with
tech executives was also being closely watched for signs of any
easing of a regulatory crackdown on the sector that has weighed on
Chinese shares closed higher on bets for looser regulatory scrutiny
on the tech sector and Shanghai's progress on COVID.
TIGHTENING IN BEIJING
Beijing's latest daily case count was 52, with authorities
discovering a few dozen new infections on an almost daily basis
despite gradually tightening restrictions over the past three weeks
Dine-in services are banned in the capital, some malls and other
businesses are shut, public transport is curtailed and many
residents have been advised to work from home.
Residents in some COVID-affected parts of Beijing's Fengtai district
were ordered not to leave their neighbourhoods, state television
reported on Tuesday.
In Beijing's largest district, Chaoyang, some compounds have closed
side exits while main gates are manned by volunteers checking health
credentials on the mobile app authorities use to track COVID.
Security personnel patrolled the banks of the Liangma canal, which
has become a picnic spot in recent weeks for residents not allowed
to go elsewhere. Signs had been put up asking people to "avoid
crowds, gatherings and eating together".
(Reporting by David Stanway, Brenda Goh and Winni Zhou in Shanghai;
Martin Quin Pollard and Ellen Zhang in Beijing; and the Beijing and
Shanghai bureaus; Writing by Marius Zaharia and John Geddie; Editing
by Robert Birsel)
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