Shanghai is starting to come back to life when COVID’s blockade is eased

SHANGHAI (AP) – Traffic, pedestrians and runners reappeared on the streets of Shanghai on Wednesday when China’s largest city began …

SHANGHAI (AP) – Traffic, pedestrians and runners reappeared on the streets of Shanghai on Wednesday as China’s largest city began to return to normal after the severe two-month closure of COVID-19, which sparked unusual protests over its brutal implementation.

The Shanghai Communist Party Committee, the city’s most powerful political body, has published a letter online announcing the success of the blockade and thanking citizens for their “support and contribution.” This came amid a steady setback of coercive measures that have turned the daily lives of millions, while seriously disrupting the economy and global supply chains. Government officials in recent days have been ready to speed up the gradual easing of restrictions.

Advocating for the tough “zero COVID policy” of President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, the country’s leadership seems to recognize the public’s reaction to measures seen as trampling on already severely restricted privacy and participation in government.

As one such step, the Joint Cabinet’s Prevention and Control Mechanism released a circular Tuesday outlining rules prohibiting “non-standard, simple and rough disinfection of premises” by mostly untrained teams in Shanghai and other places that have left homes damaged. led to property reports. theft.

From Wednesday in Shanghai resumes full bus and subway, and then rail service with the rest of China. However, more than half a million people in a city of 25 million remain behind closed doors or in certain control zones because cases of the virus are still being detected.

The government says all restrictions will be phased out, but local district committees still have significant powers to pursue sometimes conflicting and arbitrary policies. Negative PCR tests for COVID-19, taken in the previous 48 hours, also remain standard in Shanghai, Beijing and other places for permission to enter public places.

This measure did not prevent people in Shanghai from gathering on the streets to eat and drink under the supervision of police deployed to prevent the formation of large crowds.

Cao Yue, who works in the affected travel industry, said she was excited to see “a lot of happy people around me on the street”.

Cao said the last two months of closure were a depressing experience.

“At the beginning of the closure, it was hard on my heart because I didn’t know what to do, and at first it was hard to buy food,” she said. “It was very depressing to be locked up at home and see the whole of Shanghai behind closed doors.”

Lou Kesin, a high school graduate who visited the famous Bund district on the river for the first time since late March, said she was crazy about being trapped at home for so long. “I’m very happy, extremely happy, all the way, too happy,” she said.

Schools will partially open on a voluntary basis, and shopping malls, supermarkets, shops and drugstores will open gradually at no more than 75% of total capacity. Cinemas and gyms will remain closed.

On Wednesday, health authorities reported only 15 new cases of COVID-19 in Shanghai, up from a record high of 20,000 daily cases in April.

Several shopping malls and markets have reopened, and some residents have been issued passes that allow them to go out for several hours at a time.

The blockade led to an outflow of Chinese and foreign residents, and crowds formed near Hongqiao City Railway Station, where only some train traffic was restored.

Even while the rest of the world has opened up, China is adhering to “zero COVID-19”, which requires blocking, mass testing and isolation in centralized facilities of anyone who is infected or has been in contact with someone who has had a positive result.

The country’s borders also remain largely closed, and the government has increased requirements for passports and permits to travel abroad.

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