Traffic, pedestrians and joggers reappeared on the streets of Shanghai on Wednesday (Jan 1) as China’s largest city began returning to normalcy amid the easing of a strict two-month COVID-19 lockdown that has drawn unusual protests over its heavy-handed implementation.
Shanghai’s Communist Party committee issued a letter online proclaiming the lockdown’s success and thanking citizens for their “support and contributions.”
Full bus and subway service in Shanghai was being restored from Wednesday, with rail connections to the rest of China to follow. Still, more than half a million people in the city of 25 million remain under lockdown or in designated control zones because virus cases are still being detected.
The government says all restrictions will be gradually lifted, but local neighborhood committees still wield considerable power to implement sometimes conflicting and arbitrary policies. Negative PCR tests for COVID-19 taken within the previous 48 hours also remain standard in Shanghai, Beijing and elsewhere for permission to enter public venues.
Schools will partially reopen on a voluntary basis, and shopping malls, supermarkets, convenience stores and drug stores will gradually reopen at no more than 75 percent of their total capacity. Cinemas and gyms will remain closed.