Relief and disbelief as Shanghai to start lifting COVID-19 lockdown

Todd Pearson, managing director of Camel Hospitality Group, which operates eight restaurants, four bars and three gyms in Shanghai and neighbouring Suzhou, is wary.

His restaurants are only allowed to do deliveries, which amount for about 5 per cent of revenue, not enough to pay salaries and rent. At least from midnight his workers who have been sleeping in the restaurants, stuck there due to the strict lockdown rules, can finally go home.

“I’m hopeful that they will rush things along quickly to restart the economy,” Pearson said. “I just hope it’s not at the cost of more outbreaks. I’m not sure many businesses or the people could handle much more.”

Economic activity in China has somewhat recovered in May from a dismal April as COVID-19 curbs in major manufacturing hubs were gradually relaxed, although movement controls still depressed demand and restrained production.

Factory activity was at a three-month high in May, but contracted from a year earlier.


Shanghai reported 31 cases for May 30, down from 67 a day earlier, all within controlled areas. The downtrend in cases could be noticed in many other cities in China, with new daily infections falling to 174 from 184, nationally.

Other countries, which have decided to co-exist with the virus even as infections spread, are reporting tens of thousands of new cases daily.

Once the Shanghai lockdown is lifted, life will still look very different in the city compared to those places.

Some banking clerks said they will be required to wear full hazmat suits and face shields as they start facing the public from Wednesday.

One banking worker, who only gave his surname as Qin, said he would take some basic supplies to work, in case a colleague tests positive and staff are required to isolate in the office.

“I need to pack some clothes and supplies to leave at the office. Just in case,” Qin said.

The lockdown has fuelled rare protests, with people at times banging pots and pans outside their windows to show their discontent with the strict measures, and many taking to social media to share frustrating interactions with authorities and other personal dramas caused by the restrictions.

The public anger comes during a sensitive year for President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to secure a precedent-breaking third leadership term this autumn.

One complex on Tuesday hanged a Chinese flag for residents to take pictures with as they lined up for one more PCR test before the reopening.

“It’s worth celebrating,” said one volunteer worker at the testing site, waving a small Chinese flag, who was more optimistic about COVID-19 than those getting their noses swabbed. “Probably we won’t have it again in the rest of our lives.”


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