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Shanghai Takes Biggest Steps Toward Reopening in Two Months

From Bloomberg.

Shanghai Takes Biggest Steps Toward Reopening in Two Months. Shanghai Takes Biggest Steps Toward Reopening in Two Months. Shanghai will let people in areas deemed low risk for Covid-19 leave their housing compounds, as the city moves to dismantle the last remaining restrictions that confined most of its 25 million residents to their homes for two months.   

The financial hub will resume taxi and ride hailing services and allow cars onto roads in the low-risk areas, the municipal government said in a statement on Monday. Bus, subway and ferry services will also resume in an orderly manner from Wednesday.

The easing comes as Shanghai’s worst outbreak of the pandemic wanes, with just 31 Covid cases, all in government-run isolation centers, reported for Monday. The measures, which come two weeks after the city started exiting its punishing lockdown, lay the groundwork for a fuller return to normalcy, even as China remains committed to a Covid policy that poses the risk of harsh restrictions on movement in any place where an outbreak flares. 

Shanghai residents reacted to the news with cheers and songs from their apartments, with some setting off fireworks from their balconies to celebrate. Social media platforms, including WeChat, were flooded with messages and comments about the easing, with some Shanghainese discussing where and when they would meet for drinks or meals together, although dining-in is still banned for most restaurants around the city. Many factories and businesses are still subject to restrictions on how they can operate. 

While Shanghai started to ease movement restrictions earlier this month, millions of residents found they were still confined to their apartment blocks or allowed out only briefly as neighborhood committees around the city imposed strict and arbitrary curbs amid concern about a rebound in cases. 

The latest easing comes on the heels of a steady decline in new cases in Shanghai. Infections fell to 67 on Sunday, about half the level of the day before. Earlier this month, the local government said it’s aiming for the city to return to normal life by the middle or end of June.

With nearly all of the recent new cases found in government-mandated quarantine instead of the community, the latest easing announcement will mean the end of the lockdown for most of the city’s residents. The lengthy confinement has sparked clashes between residents and police over the past two months.

Beijing is also seeing a declining caseload, with 18 new Covid infections reported for Monday. The capital, which avoided a full lockdown, has started easing some curbs on movement and resumed some public transport. 

Still, the threat of more curbs remains as long as China persists with its Covid Zero approach. Policy makers at the national level and in Shanghai have unveiled various tax breaks and stimulus measures aimed at reinvigorating the world’s second-largest economy amid the disruption to manufacturers and industry from lockdowns. 

Shanghai has pushed local enterprises to resume productions and announced accelerated approvals for property projects and incentives for car buyers among other moves.

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