Shanghai aims to reopen more businesses shuttered by COVID, Beijing still struggling

  • Shanghai malls and stores to gradually resume in-store operations
  • Some Beijing districts expand work-from-home guidance
  • Shanghai lockdown frustrates and angers residents
  • The brakes have shaken global supply chains

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, May 15 (Reuters) – Shanghai will begin gradually reopening businesses such as shopping malls and beauty salons in China’s financial and manufacturing hub from Monday after weeks of a strict COVID-19 lockdown, while Beijing is battling a small but persistent outbreak.

Nearly shut down for more than six weeks, Shanghai is tightening restrictions in some areas that it hopes will mark a final push in its campaign against the virus, which has angered and exhausted residents of China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city.

Shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets will begin to resume store operations and allow customers to shop “in an orderly manner,” while beauty salons and vegetable markets will reopen with limited capacity, Vice Mayor Chen said. Tong at a news conference on Sunday.

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He gave no details on the pace or scope of the reopenings, and many residents of the city of 25 million reacted skeptically online.

“Who are you lying to? We can’t even leave our compound. You can open, no one can go,” said a Twitter-like Weibo user from China, whose IP was shown to be from Shanghai.

During Shanghai’s lockdown, residents have mostly confined themselves to buying necessities, with normal online shopping largely suspended due to a shortage of couriers.

And while barbers and groomers have been cutting hair on the street or in open areas of housing complexes, residents who have recently been able to leave their homes for short walks or grocery shopping are generally looking more disheveled than usual.

In a hopeful sign, Shanghai’s subway operator has started testing trains on its vast network in preparation for reopening, a local government media outlet reported, but gave no indication when it will do so.

Shanghai residents have been frustrated by unclear or inconsistent rules as the city takes tentative steps to smooth sidewalks.

In Changning district on Sunday, a woman started walking her dog before a policeman told her to go home.

“The lockdown has not been lifted!” the policeman yelled.

EXTRAORDINARY FOCUS

China’s strict “dynamic zero” approach to COVID has put hundreds of millions of people in dozens of cities under restrictions of varying degrees in a bid to eliminate the spread of the disease.

The restrictions are wreaking havoc on the world’s second-largest economy and rattling global supply chains, even as most countries try to return to normal life despite ongoing infections.

New bank lending hit its lowest level in nearly four-and-a-half years in April as the pandemic rattled the economy and weakened demand for credit, central bank data showed on Friday.

The Asian Football Confederation said on Saturday that China withdrew from hosting the 2023 Asian Cup final due to COVID, the latest in a wave of sporting event cancellations by China and sparking online speculation. that its zero COVID policy could persist well into the next one. year. read more

China managed to keep COVID at bay after it was discovered in Wuhan in late 2019, but has struggled to contain the highly infectious Omicron variant. The World Health Organization said last week that China’s approach was not “sustainable”. read more

Still, China is expected to maintain its focus at least until the ruling Communist Party’s congress, historically in the fall, where President Xi Jinping is poised to secure a precedent-breaking third leadership term.

Despite the disruptions, no senior Chinese official has spoken publicly against a COVID-19 policy that Beijing espouses as lifelines.

The number of cases in Shanghai continued to improve, with 1,369 daily symptomatic and asymptomatic infections reported, up from 1,681 the day before.

Importantly, the city reported no new cases outside of the quarantined areas after finding one a day earlier. Consistently achieving zero cases outside of quarantined areas is a key factor for officials in determining when they can reopen the city.

Shanghai achieved its goal of zero COVID in less populous suburban districts and began smoothing sidewalks there first, such as allowing shoppers to enter supermarkets, but continued to tighten restrictions in many areas over the past two weeks, reducing deliveries and placing more Fencing.

In Beijing, where restaurants have closed for dinner, several districts on Sunday extended work-from-home guidance and authorities announced three more days of mass daily testing for most city residents.

Beijing said it found 55 new cases in the 24 hours to 3 pm (0700 GMT) on Sunday, 10 of which were outside the quarantined areas. The city strives to eradicate such community infections.

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Reporting by Brenda Goh, Albee Zhang, and Tony Munroe; Edited by William Mallard, William Maclean

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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