Shanghai eases Covid curbs in step towards ending lockdown

Published June 2, 2022
A police officer in a protective suit keeps watch at a subway station after the lockdown placed to curb the Covid-19 outbreak was lifted in Shanghai, China on June 2, 2022. — Reuters
A police officer in a protective suit keeps watch at a subway station after the lockdown placed to curb the Covid-19 outbreak was lifted in Shanghai, China on June 2, 2022. — Reuters

SHANGHAI: Shanghai eased a range of Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday in a step towards returning to normal after a two-month lockdown that confined residents of the megacity to their homes and battered China’s economy.

The commercial hub of 25 million people was closed down in sections from late March, when the Omicron virus variant fuelled China’s worst outbreak since Covid first took hold in 2020.

After some rules were gradually relaxed over the past few weeks, authorities on Wednesday began allowing residents in areas deemed low-risk to move around the city freely. “This is a moment that we have been looking forward to for a long time,” the Shanghai municipal government said in a statement on social media.

“Because of the impact of the epidemic, Shanghai, a megacity, entered an unprecedented period of silence.” On Wednesday morning, people were seen travelling on Shanghai’s subway and heading to office buildings, while some shops were preparing to open. A day earlier, bright yellow barriers that had hemmed in buildings and city blocks for weeks were taken down in many areas.

The restrictions had hammered the economy of the city, snarling supply chains in China and abroad, and signs of resentment among residents emerged throughout the lockdown.

Deputy Mayor Zong Ming told reporters Tuesday that the easing will impact about 22 million people in the city.

Malls, convenience stores, pharmacies and beauty salons will be allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, while parks and other scenic spots will gradually reopen, she added.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2022

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