Roads in Beijing were busy on Monday as residents of the two districts were allowed to return to work, as Shanghai came close to lifting its two-month-old Covid-19 lockdown from Wednesday, as the number of infections dropped across China.
China is the only major country in the world to pursue an uncompromising “Zero Covid” policy aimed at eradicating the virus at any cost, while most of the world tries to coexist with the virus.
China reports hundreds of new cases every day compared to many western countries, which report thousands of new COVID cases every day.
Tough Covid sanctions, and especially severe lockdowns in China’s most populous cities, have hit the world’s second-largest economy, disrupting the global supply chain and disrupting international trade.
But there may be some respite soon.
In the capital, Beijing, the Fangshan and Shuni districts have abolished the rules for working from home, while public transport has been reintroduced to two districts as well as the city’s largest Chawang.
Libraries, museums, theaters and gyms were allowed to reopen on Sunday, albeit with limited population, in districts that have not seen any community coward incidents for seven days in a row. Even then, restaurants are banned throughout the city.
Shanghai, China’s 25-million-strong shopping mall, finally plans to lift a painful two-month lockdown from Wednesday, but there is still much confusion about what the exit will look like and how slow it could be.
Businesses were told they could resume work, but most residents were not told when they could leave their housing compound, most public transport was suspended and no private vehicles were allowed on the road without prior approval.
A banker at a foreign lender in Shanghai said his human resources and supplies department had told staff that management was still unsure whether people would be able to return to work on Wednesday.
“Nothing is clear and the bank has no idea,” said the banker, who declined to be named.
On Sunday, Shanghai authorities said they would remove “unreasonable” conditions for resuming business from Wednesday and announced 50 policy measures to support the economy.
Measures include issuing and expediting local government bonds, urging banks to renew loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, and expediting approval of real estate projects. The city will also reduce the purchase tax on some passenger cars to increase auto costs.
There were no specific details about what restrictions would be lifted on the business.
“Let’s talk about resuming work only when our housing compounds are allowed free entry and exit,” a social media user commented in a local media article about the latest Shanghai arrangement.
Although activity levels have shown some signs of recovery this month from the horrific April numbers, the strength and durability of any rebound largely depends on covid development.
Shanghai, Beijing and other cities in China have made significant progress in reducing daily caseloads, but uncertainty remains, as the high-transmissible Omicron variant is at risk of reversal.
The zero-sum strategy is a policy signed by President Xi Jinping, who is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term this fall.
Chinese authorities have recently doubled the strategy, saying it is saving lives and threatening to take action against critics that an exit plan is not imminent.
Goldman Sachs economists say they could discuss China’s zero-sum policy in just one of more than 10 recent meetings with clients in Beijing “because of political sensitivities.”
This will be especially important for China to avoid another Shanghai-type lockdown in a major population center and industrial center, and authorities hope that frequent testing of people will allow them to detect the outbreak at an early stage.
China’s goal is to have Covid testing facilities within a 15-minute walk from each of its major cities.
Analysts say the Chinese government is set to spend more than 52 52 billion this year on tests, new medical facilities, observation equipment and other anti-CowVid systems, which will benefit 3,000 companies.
Shanghai May 29 reported less than 100 new COVID cases, while Beijing recorded 12. Across the country, China reported 183 new cases, down from 293.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)