(Reuters) – Shanghai authorities on Monday provided their clearest timetable yet on lifting the city’s lockdown that has been in place for over six weeks, saying they plan to fully restore normal life from June 1.
Draconian measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in China’s largest city have generated widespread frustration and anger among its 25 million residents and contributed to a slowdown in the country’s economic activity.
Most people have been forbidden to leave their homes unless for emergency medical treatment or to buy daily necessities.
Shopping malls, restaurants and most businesses have also remained shut apart from supermarkets, pharmacies and some factories that authorities have allowed to reopen.
Shanghai on Monday said that 15 of its 16 districts had stamped out transmission outside quarantined areas, allowing them to provide a roadmap to exit the lockdown in three stages.
Movement curbs will remain largely in place until May 21.
Between May 22 and May 31, should daily infection numbers continue to fall, epidemic management will shift to a “normalisation” phase.
From June 1 to the end of the month, the city will seek to fully reopen.
Shanghai suspended all public transport and barred people from driving without prior approval.
From May 16, taxis and private cars have been allowed back on roads in outer districts with zero-COVID status such as Jinshan, Fengxian and some towns in the Pudong New Areas.
At the same time, China’s railway operator started to gradually increase the number of trains arriving and departing while airlines will begin to increase domestic flights.
From May 22, bus and rail transit services will start to resume operations.
WORK AND PUBLIC LIFE
Shanghai has published two white lists comprising nearly 2,000 companies prioritised to resume operations.
Officials say they are focused on helping suppliers to restart work to expand the scale of factory resumption, but companies not involved in manufacturing would for now be asked to continue with work-from-home arrangements.
More supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies reopened on May 16, while hair salons and vegetable markets will also be gradually allowed to receive visitors. Movie theatres, gyms and cultural venues must remain closed for now.
Schools, which suspended in-person classes in early March, will re-open in stages, giving priority to students who will take college and high school entrance exams soon.
There are no arrangements yet to reopen kindergartens, nurseries or child care centres.
Some parks in suburban Shanghai districts such as Fengxian reopened on May 16 but capped visitors at 50% of capacity and required negative PCR tests taken within the last 48 hours.
LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN
Residents have been told to prepare for frequent COVID testing and more intense monitoring after they exit lockdown.
More than 9,000 permanent PCR testing stations have been set up in Shanghai, and residents will be required to produce negative tests taken within 48 hours to enter public venues such as metro stations.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; editing by Barbara Lewis)