Shanghai: Authorities in Shanghai have confirmed curbs on businesses will be removed from Wednesday as the city looks to lift its two-month-long COVID-19 lockdown.
The Chinese commercial hub of 25 million people aims to encourage workers to return to work, ending a lockdown that has damaged the economy and seen many residents lose income and struggle to source food.
An almost deserted shopping mall in Shanghai on Sunday.Credit:AP
City government spokeswoman Yin Xin said Shanghai would ease testing requirements from Wednesday for people who want to enter public areas.
“The current epidemic situation in the city continues to stabilise and improve,” Yin said, adding Shanghai’s strategy was “pivoting towards normalised prevention and control”.
People entering public venues or taking public transport would need to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours – up from 48 hours previously.
Bus services within the Pudong New Area, home to Shanghai’s largest airport and the main financial district, would resume by Monday.
The use of private cars has been banned during the lockdown.Credit:Bloomberg
Plaza 66, a mall in central Shanghai that hosts Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands, reopened on Sunday.
The painful coronavirus curbs in major Chinese cities run counter to trends seen in the rest of the world, which has largely tried to return to normal life.
Shanghai, China’s most populous city, will also end many conditions that had been imposed on businesses. The city has also launched measures to support its economy, including reducing some taxes on car purchases and speeding up approvals of real estate projects.
“We will fully support and organise the resumption of work and production of enterprises in various industries and fields,” vice mayor Wu Qing told reporters, adding that other “unreasonable” COVID restrictions on businesses would be lifted.
Shanghai in April started publishing “white lists” of important manufacturers in the auto industry, life sciences, chemicals and semiconductors allowed to resume operations. However, many of the priority companies had suppliers who were unable to reopen.
Many industry executives also complained about onerous COVID curbs, as they needed to find sleeping quarters for staff trying to isolate and to implement rigorous disinfection. Most businesses in the city are still shut.
All “white lists” would be abolished, Wu said.
Currently, many residents have remained largely confined to housing compounds and most shops have been only open for delivery service. Private cars are not allowed out without approval and most public transport has been shut.
Beijing also opens up
In the Chinese capital Beijing, libraries, museums, theatres and gyms were allowed to reopen on Sunday, though with limits on numbers of people, in districts that have seen no community COVID cases for seven consecutive days.
The districts of Fangshan and Shunyi will end work-from-home rules, while public transport will largely resume in the two districts as well as in Chaoyang, the city’s largest. Restaurant dining remains banned throughout the city.
Shanghai reported just over 100 new COVID cases on Sunday, while Beijing recorded 21, both in line with a falling trend nationwide.
China’s economy has shown signs of recovery following an April slump, but activity is weaker than last year and many analysts expect a second-quarter contraction.
The strength and sustainability of any recovery will depend largely on COVID, with the highly transmissible Omicron variant proving hard to wipe out.
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