Shanghai finally lifts ruthlessly enforced two-month lockdown

·3-min read

Tens of thousands of people in Shanghai stepped out on Wednesday after the authorities removed two months of gruelling lockdown as Covid-19 cases reduced in the recent weeks.

Visuals from Shanghai showed people getting out on the roads with cars, and filling up metro stations and buses, implying a certain level of normalcy in the Chinese city.

Cabs and taxis were also seen plying on the streets, allowing people to commute feely.

China has followed a painfully strict Zero-Covid policy through the course of pandemic where the restrictions curbing social interactions are rolled out without any wiggle room to control the outbreak, causing mental distress to millions of residents across the country.

But on the morning of Wednesday, many people were seen out jogging, walking their dogs in the park, sitting in the lawns, and out and about in the streets of Shanghai, embracing the removal of guidelines curbing social interaction.

In April, videos from the peak of Covid outbreak in China on social media showed many residents crying and screaming from their house balconies after millions were asked to stay put and not leave the premises for any reason. The guidelines also required residents to not open their windows.

University student Hang Meichan said that he feels like has regained his freedom.

A video posted on social media showed masked people dotting the streets in Shanghai as cars piled into traffic.

“This morning in Shanghai, near the Bund, after lifting of a 2-month lockdown,” historian Tong Bingxue said on Twitter.

“With the lifting of a crippling 2-month lockdown, the streets of Shanghai looked (and sounded) like this. Video shows traffic and people along the Bund which has been all but deserted for weeks,” journalist Janis Mackey Frayer commented on the video.

However, the resumption of daily life in Shanghai is yet to reach the pre-Covid level as the authorities have continued the ban on restaurants and shops, where the owners can only allow people upto 75 per cent of the capacity.

Gyms and cinema halls have not been reopened but are expected to resume functioning later this month.

An air of gloom from the socially punitive measures hung over residents who rued how the lockdown was not easy for anyone reeling from it.

"It’s not like the happiness you feel when you welcome the New Year, because this isn’t a good thing," a Shanghai resident surnamed Dong said.

"It’s very complicated. The last two months have not been easy for anyone," she said.

"I’m happy because I can see my friend, but when I was alone I really wanted to cry,” Ms Dong said.

Many jumped at the chance to return to mundane tasks like buying fresh fruit and vegetables which was another activity curbed in the lockdown.

"I bought some soy beans, this was not possible to buy through group-buys, some broccoli, and some prawns," Ms Wang said, adding that it is her first day. After heavy criticism from locals surfaced in the last few months, authorities in Shanghai sent out a "thank you" letter to residents, with medical staff, police, the army, journalists and "grass-roots" cadres, expressing gratitude for their help amid the outbreak.

"Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party’s Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, after more than two months of continuous fighting, the arduous battle to defend Shanghai has achieved a major milestone," the note read.

It added: "This is a moment everyone has been waiting for... we would like to thank all Shanghai citizens in particular for their support and dedication!"

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