Shanghai will gradually begin reopening businesses such as shopping malls and hair salons in China’s financial and manufacturing hub from today after weeks in strict Covid-19 lockdown, while Beijing battles a small but stubborn outbreak.
All but shut down for more than six weeks, Shanghai is tightening curbs in some areas that it hopes marks a final push in its campaign against the virus, which has infuriated and exhausted residents of China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city.
Shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets will begin resuming in-store operations and allow customers to shop in “an orderly way”, while hair salons and vegetable markets will reopen with limited capacity, vice mayor Chen Tong told a media briefing yesterday.
He gave no specifics on the pace or extent of reopenings, and many residents in the city of 25mn reacted online with scepticism.
“Who are you lying to? We can’t even go out of our compound. You can open up, no one can go,” said a user of China’s Twitter-like Weibo, whose IP showed as being from Shanghai.
During Shanghai’s lockdown, residents have been mainly limited to buying necessities, with normal online shopping largely suspended due to a shortage of couriers.
And while barbers and hairdressers have been giving haircuts on the street or in open areas of housing compounds, residents recently able to leave homes for brief outings to walk or buy groceries have generally appeared more dishevelled than usual.
In one hopeful sign, Shanghai’s subway operator began testing trains on its vast network in preparation for reopening, a local government media outlet reported, but gave no indication of when it will do so.
Shanghai residents have been frustrated by unclear or inconsistent rules as the city makes tentative steps towards easing curbs.
In the Changning district yesterday, a woman began walking her dog before being told by a policeman to go home. “The lockdown hasn’t lifted!”, the policeman shouted.
China’s strict “dynamic zero” approach to Covid has put hundreds of millions of people in dozens of cities under curbs of varying degrees in an attempt to eliminate the spread of the disease.
The curbs 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 continued infections.
New bank lending hit the lowest in nearly four-and-half-years in April as the pandemic jolted the economy and weakened credit demand, central bank data showed on Friday.
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