- Shanghai goes three days without new infections in the community
- Just a few signs of a gradual reopening
- US Chamber of Commerce warns that Covid controls are hampering foreign investment
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Shanghai hit the long-awaited milestone of three straight days with no new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine areas on Tuesday, but most residents will have to endure longer confinement before more can resume. A normal life.
For other cities in China that have been under lockdown, three days without new cases in the community usually means “zero COVID” and the start of lifting restrictions.
The mall of 25 million people on Monday laid out the clearest timetable yet for exiting the shutdown now in its seventh week, but the plan was met with skepticism by many residents who saw the isolation extended time and time again.
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“Normal life is too far away,” said a Shanghai resident still stuck at home.
Shanghai plans to resume outdoor activities in phases, with some stores reopening this week, but with most restrictions on movement in place until May 21, after which public transportation and other services will gradually resume.
By June, the lockdown should be lifted, but residents will still be required to get tested frequently.
More people were allowed to leave their homes this week, with some joggers and dog walkers spotted. A man is seen fishing in a Shanghai creek.
But high fences remained around many apartment complexes and there were almost no private cars on the streets, and most people were still confined to their homes.
It wasn’t clear how many stores reopened this week, but on one positive sign, delivery apps showed more options for people to order from on Tuesday.
A social media account run by the official People’s Daily newspaper of the ruling Communist Party published pictures Monday evening, which it said showed the opening of breakfast joints, restaurants and hairdressers.
But one social media user called the post “nonsense”.
“We’ve been locked in the house for two months…This story is for anyone other than people in Shanghai.”
By Tuesday morning, the post had been deleted.
A video posted by another state-backed media announced the reopening of a grocery store, showing about 10 hazmat-clad employees making heart shapes with their own hands, but only two people who look like shoppers.
A sign on the store door stated that customers must submit a negative COVID test and a pass stating that they are allowed to go outside, among other requirements.
Overall, Shanghai reported less than 1,000 new cases on May 16, all in areas under strict control.
China’s hardline “no COVID” policy has put hundreds of millions of consumers and workers under various restrictions at a time when the rest of the world is raising them to “live with the virus” even as the infection spreads.
This week’s data showed the chaos inflicted on the economy by Shanghai’s lockdown and restrictions in dozens of other major cities, with retail sales and industrial production falling at their fastest pace in more than two years in April. Read more
The capital, Beijing, saw a 16% drop in retail sales in April, the start of the current outbreak, according to Reuters calculations based on January-April data released on Tuesday. Real estate sales are down 26%. Read more
The US Chamber of Commerce has warned that COVID controls will hinder foreign investment in China for years to come as travel restrictions disrupt due diligence on projects. She said major companies are also looking at alternatives to supply chains. Read more
Analysts and policy insiders say China’s sluggish economy will struggle for the kind of stunning recovery it made from the early depths of the epidemic two years ago. Read more
But China’s state planner said on Tuesday it would boost support for manufacturers, the service sector and small businesses to mitigate the impact of Covid.
The meeting held by China’s top political advisory body with technology executives was also closely watched for indications of any loosening of the regulatory crackdown on the sector that has affected growth. Read more
Tightening in Beijing
The number of recent daily cases in Beijing reached 52, with authorities discovering a few dozen new infections on an almost daily basis despite gradually tightening restrictions over the past three weeks or so.
Dining services are banned in the capital, some malls and other businesses are closed, public transport is scaled back and many residents have been advised to work from home.
State TV reported Tuesday that residents in some areas affected by the coronavirus in Beijing’s Fengtai District have been ordered not to leave their neighborhoods.
In Beijing’s largest district, Chaoyang District, some complexes have shut down side exits while volunteers run main gates to check health credentials on mobile apps that 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 who are not allowed to go elsewhere. Signs were placed asking people to “avoid crowds and gatherings and eat together”.
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Additional reporting by David Stanway, Brenda Goh and Winnie Zhou in Shanghai; Martin Quinn Pollard and Elaine Zhang from Beijing; the Beijing and Shanghai offices; Written by Marius Zaharia and John Gedi; Editing by Robert Persell
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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