Shanghai Hits Key ‘Zero-Covid’ Milestone But No Immediate End To Lockdown Despite Concerns About China’s Economy
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Topline

Shanghai on Tuesday achieved a key milestone in its reopening plan of three consecutive days with no new Covid-19 cases outside designated quarantine zones, however, most of the city’s residents will continue to face stringent curbs as authorities plan for a cautious reopening, while concerns about the long-term impact of lockdowns on China’s economy grow.

Key Facts

According to the National Health Commission Shanghai reported 823 new cases, ​​all inside areas with the most stringent quarantine restrictions.

Unlike other locked down cities in China which begin lifting restrictions after three days of zero infections outside quarantined areas, Shanghai plans to carry out a phased reopening with most lockdown restrictions remaining in place at least till May 21.

Most of Shanghai’s residents have now been under lockdown for almost seven weeks, prompting anger and frustration.

According to Reuters, some shops in the city have begun reopening across the city but most restrictions on movement remain in place and almost no private cars can be seen on the roads.

Meanwhile, cases in Beijing remain plateaued as the city reported 52 new Covid cases on Tuesday, prompting authorities to tighten restrictions further.

In a public broadcast on state television, some residents of Beijing’s Fengtai district were ordered not to leave their neighborhoods while residential compounds in Chaoyang—the city’s largest district—carried out health status checks at exit points.

Crucial Quote

“We’re very concerned about the ongoing and future investment by U.S. and other foreign companies into China because people can’t get access in terms of travel. Unfortunately, the Covid lockdown this year and the restrictions for the last two years are going to mean three, four, five years from now, we will see investment decline, most likely,” Michael Hart, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in China warned on Tuesday at an event. Several groups have warned that China’s uncompromising ‘zero-Covid’ policy could have a severe impact on the country’s economy.

Key Background

On Monday, officials in Shanghai for the first time laid out a timetable for ending the city’s lockdown. Authorities said the reopening will take place in phases, with restrictions on movement staying in place until May 21. By June 1, the lockdown is expected to be fully lifted, but residents of the city will still be asked to frequently undergo testing. The city’s vice mayor Zong Ming, however, warned that this reopening plan was subject to cases not rebounding, a prospect authorities in the city “remain sober” about. China has zealously stuck to its ‘zero-Covid’ plan despite the current outbreaks in Shanghai and Beijing being fueled by the highly infectious BA.2 omicron variant of the coronavirus. Any efforts to question the hardline strategy—which involves stringent lockdowns and mass testing to curb outbreaks—have been met with pushback and censorship from the state.

Further Reading

Normal still “far away” in Shanghai despite prized ‘zero COVID’ status (Reuters)

Shanghai’s Strict 6-Week Lockdown Nears End As Covid Outbreak Eases (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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