- Neighbors celebrate, go shopping, go back to work
- Car, train and bus traffic is resumed in Shanghai
- Some residents are wary that COVID sidewalks may return
- The municipal government issues a letter of thanks, some apologize
SHANGHAI, June 1 (Reuters) – Shanghai came back to life on Wednesday after two months of bitter isolation under a ruthless blockade by COVID-19, with shops reopening and people returning to offices, parks and markets, with the hope of never going through a similar situation. Calvary again.
To many of the 25 million residents who were finally able to experience the outdoors again in China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, street life seemed like a flashback to a distant memory.
Cars were returning to the roads, while passengers were getting back on trains and buses. Runners, skaters, and dog walkers defied the sweltering heat as they toured the riverside parks.
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There was the joy of reuniting with those closest to you, the relief of being able to buy anything, but also the mistrust of another possible outburst as people licked their wounds after a sustained period of frustration, stress. and economic losses.
A Shanghai resident named Dong, who was drinking beer with a friend in the city’s old French concession neighborhood, was not in the mood for celebration.
“It’s not like the happiness you feel when you welcome the New Year. It’s very complicated. The last two months have not been easy for anyone,” he said.
“I’m happy because I can see my friend, but when I was alone I really wanted to cry.”
The blockade of Shanghai was the result of China’s “zero COVID” strategy of eradicating outbreaks at any cost, as the country went against the global consensus that coexistence with the virus was inevitable.
The fear that COVID – and with it, the strict restrictions on social life – might return was visible. Police and desk staff in public were wearing suits full of dangerous material. Many travelers wore gloves and a face shield. They all wore masks.
There were also long queues at PCR test sites, with residents needing recent negative results to catch public transportation and enter several buildings, and many lined up at vaccination centers.
Cafes like Starbucks (SBUX.O) reopened, but restaurants remain largely banned, shops can only run at 75% capacity, and gyms will reopen later.
While people returned to the malls, they were mostly limited to small pleasures like bubble tea, avoiding flashy expenses. Read more
“This is a time to enjoy being outside, but also to protect yourself and your money,” said Professor Yang Zengdong. “This is not the time to spend and waste.”
I’m not afraid to get the virus, but I’m afraid of a positive test result and centralized quarantine. “
People wearing face masks pass their dogs in front of runners on a shopping street after the lock was lifted to curb the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China, on June 1 of 2022. REUTERS / Aly Song
Companies also had mixed feelings about their prospects after the blockade, which affected Shanghai’s manufacturing and export sectors, disrupted supply chains in China and around the world, and slowed international trade.
Factory activity in the world’s second-largest economy slowed less sharply in May as production resumed somewhat, but it was still the second strongest monthly drop since February 2020, in the early stages of the COVID pandemic.
Many analysts expect the economy to shrink in the second quarter and say the recovery will be a grinding process that will depend heavily on the evolution of COVID, and consumers and businesses are unlikely to regain confidence immediately.
But a bit of repressed consumption was noticed.
People bought fresh fruits and vegetables and other products that they longed for during confinement when they couldn’t always order everything they wanted, depending heavily on group orders for basic supplies with neighbors.
“I bought some soybeans, this couldn’t be bought through group shopping, some broccoli and some prawns,” a woman named Wang said as she pushed a bicycle laden with groceries.
“This is my first day out.”
The city’s blockade management sparked rare protests, with people sometimes knocking pots and pans out of their windows to show discontent. They were awkward scenes for the Communist Party in government in a sensitive year in which President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a third-term leadership break.
Chinese authorities have threatened to take action against critics of its COVID policy, which it says is aimed at preventing millions of deaths caused by the virus worldwide. The United States alone has registered about one million.
The Shanghai government issued a letter of “thanks” to residents, with medical staff, police, the army, journalists and “grassroots” cadres among many who received a special mention for their contributions.
“Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, after more than two months of continued struggle, the arduous battle to defend Shanghai has reached an important milestone,” he said.
“This is a moment everyone has been waiting for … we would like to thank all the people of Shanghai in particular for their support and dedication!”
On social media, some users responded to the letter with victorious celebrations, while others apologized.
“Shouldn’t those who wield great power and be able to harm others arbitrarily be held responsible?” commented one user.
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Additional reports from Casey Hall, David Stanway, Winni Zhou, Samuel Shen in Shanghai and Sophie Yu in Beijing; Written by Marius Zaharia; Edited by Michael Perry and Kim Coghill
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