COVID: World’s strictest lockdown is OVER after 65 DAYS!
Shanghai residents celebrate with beers in the street as city finally reopens after two months of crippling Covid restrictions
Shanghai residents have celebrated the end of their crippling lockdown by partying and drinking in the streets as friends and family reunited for the first time in two months.
China’s largest city controversially forced its 25million people to stay at home for 65 days after the Omicron virus variant fuelled China’s worst outbreak in two years, despite most of the world rolling back their pandemic measures.
The draconian restrictions have sparked protests after people were seen being dragged from their homes by hazmat-suited government workers, separating parents from their children in distressing scenes.
All the draconian restrictions were suddenly lifted at midnight last night, a huge relief for the trapped families and the workers forced to camp out in their offices and factories.
Shanghai’s Communist Party committee, the city’s most powerful political body, issued a letter online proclaiming the lockdown’s success and thanking citizens for their ‘support and contributions.’
‘It feels like we’ve all been through a lot of trauma, a collective trauma,’ Grace Guan told AFP.
The 35-year-old Shanghai resident said she went out at midnight when the restrictions eased and saw groups gathered in the street drinking beer, some sitting together on blankets laid out on the pavements.
‘Now it feels like the Berlin Wall coming down.’
On Wednesday morning, commuters trickled into subway stations and office buildings, scanning QR codes that certify they are virus-free.
Residents gathered to chat in parks, queue outside banks and walk by the riverside, with masked customers thronging one of the main shopping streets.
‘Everything is getting better, bit by bit. Things are moving forward,’ said one relieved office worker, surnamed Li.
The famous Bund waterfront was ticking back to life, with visitors snapping pictures of the famous skyline on their phones.
A day earlier, many of the bright yellow barriers that had hemmed in buildings and city blocks for weeks were taken down.
‘It should have been like this to begin with,’ one woman out for a riverside walk told AFP, in echoes of the frustration and anger that has simmered in the city over the strict controls.
Deputy Mayor Zong Ming told reporters Tuesday that the easing would impact about 22 million people in the city.
Malls, convenience stores, pharmacies and beauty salons would be allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, while parks and other scenic spots would gradually reopen, she added.
But cinemas and gyms remain closed, and schools – shut since mid-March – will slowly reopen on a voluntary basis.
Buses, the subway and ferry services would also resume, transport officials said.
Taxi services and private cars will be allowed in low-risk areas, permitting people to visit friends and family outside their district.
‘This is a moment that we have been looking forward to for a long time,’ the Shanghai municipal government said in a statement on social media.
The stringent curbs in Shanghai – home to the busiest container port in the world – had hammered the economy, starving businesses and snarling supply chains in China and abroad.
Signs of resentment and anger among residents emerged throughout the lockdown.
The city government has warned that the situation is still not normal, and businesses said there were many uncertainties.
‘It remains to (be seen) how this new normal will look,’ said Bettina Schoen-Behanzin, chair of the Shanghai chapter at the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
Health authorities on Wednesday reported just 15 new Covid-19 cases in Shanghai, down from a record high of around 20,000 daily cases in April.
The lockdown has prompted an exodus of Chinese and foreign residents, with crowds forming outside the city’s Hongqiao Railway Station, where only some train services have resumed.
Even while the rest of the world has opened up, China has stuck to a ‘zero-COVID’ strategy that requires lockdowns, mass testing and isolation at centralised facilities for anyone who is infected or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
Courtesy: Agency Reports