Shanghai authorities said Tuesday they would lift further restrictions in a move to bring the cove-affected city back to normal, after two months of heavy restrictions that barred businesses and locked residents.
The 25 million commercial center was shut down in departments since late March, when the spread of the Omicron variant caused the worst outbreak in China since the virus first appeared in the country in late 2019.
China is married to strict lockdown, mass testing and long quarantine period zero-cavid strategy to remove clusters.
But after gradually relaxing some rules in recent weeks, officials said Tuesday that residents living in low-risk areas would be allowed to move around the city freely, a major step toward lifting the ban.
Deputy Mayor Jung Ming told reporters that the easing of restrictions would apply to about 22 million people.
“From June 1, the city will enter its third phase, a phase of complete restoration of normal production and order of life in the city,” Jung said.
Malls, convenience stores, pharmacies and beauty salons will be allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, while parks and other scenic spots will be gradually reopened, he added.
But the cinema and gym are closed and schools – closed from mid-March – will gradually reopen on a voluntary basis.
Chen Ying, an e-commerce professional, says she still plans to work from home but can treat her two-year-old son for a long-awaited walk outside.
“We should have been independent in the beginning, so don’t expect me to be deeply grateful now that they gave it back to us,” he told AFP.
Caution and restraint
Local media showed pictures of orange-clad workers breaking down barricades that had been erected for weeks in districts across the city.
Shanghai resident Anita Xu told AFP she was unprepared for lifting the ban.
“Even though you can go out, I don’t know what you can do,” said the 32-year-old marketing professional.
“I was caught unawares.”
Previously, residents of areas without a coronavirus case had to carry a pass that allowed them to go out for a few hours to buy essentials.
Taxi services and private cars will also be allowed in low-risk areas, so that people can meet friends and family outside their district.
Bus, subway and ferry services will also resume, transport officials said.
Residents of Shanghai who travel to other cities in China still have to quarantine, and residents need to take a negative test within 72 hours to enter most public places.
There will still be strict movement restrictions in communities considered “high risk”.
Factories and businesses were also preparing to resume operations after weeks of inactivity, with drastic measures paralyzing the city.
Shanghai official Wu Qing told reporters Sunday that the city would “remove unreasonable restrictions” and announced a number of steps to move its virus-ravaged economy forward.
But residents and business owners have complained of inconsistencies between official announcements and enforcement.
China’s largest city has reported more than 63,000 Kovid infections and nearly 600 deaths since mid-March, and heavy-handed lockdown has sparked online outrage.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)