SHANGHAI/BEIJING: Shanghai announced new measures on Sunday to return to more normal life and lift a two-month COVID-19 lockdown this week, while Beijing reopened parts of its public transport, some shopping malls, gyms and other locations as infections stabilized.
China’s mall of 25 million people is essentially aiming to end a lockdown from Wednesday that has severely damaged the economy and seen many Shanghai residents lose income, struggle for food and mentally cope with a prolonged isolation.
The painful coronavirus curbs in major Chinese cities run counter to trends seen in the rest of the world, which has largely moved towards coexistence with the virus even as infections spread.
Shanghai, China’s most populous city, will relax testing requirements from Wednesday for people who want to enter public spaces, city government spokeswoman Yin Xin said, adding that the adjustments should encourage return to work.
“The current epidemic situation in the city continues to stabilize and improve,” Yin said, adding that Shanghai’s strategy is now “pivoting towards normalized prevention and control.”
People entering public places or using public transport will have to present a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours, compared to 48 hours previously.
Bus services in the Pudong New Area, home to Shanghai’s biggest airport and main financial district, will resume in full by Monday, officials said.
Plaza 66, an upscale mall in central Shanghai that houses Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands, reopened on Sunday.
Authorities have slowly eased restrictions, emphasizing the resumption of manufacturing.
More people have been allowed to leave their apartments and more businesses allowed to reopen, although many residents remain largely confined to their homes and most shops are limited to deliveries.
Authorities have approved the reopening of 240 financial institutions in the city from Wednesday, the state-owned Shanghai Securities News reported on Sunday, adding to a list of 864 firms published earlier this month. That’s out of the roughly 1,700 financial companies in Shanghai.
The newspaper said on Saturday that the more than 10,000 bankers and traders who have lived and worked in their offices since the start of the lockdown were gradually returning home.
Shanghai has already allowed major manufacturers in the automotive, life science, chemical and semiconductor industries to resume production since late April.
In the capital Beijing, libraries, museums, theaters and gymnasiums were allowed to reopen on Sunday, with limits on the number of people, in districts that have seen no community cases of COVID-19 for seven days consecutive.
Fangshan and Shunyi districts will end work-from-home rules, while public transport will largely resume in both districts as well as in Chaoyang, the city’s largest. Yet eating out in restaurants remains banned across the city.
Shanghai reported just over 100 daily COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while Beijing recorded 21, both reflecting a nationwide downward trend.