Visitors stopped from leaving Disneyland after person with Covid traced to Shanghai theme park

Several people were left trapped inside Shanghai Disneyland for hours after it was closed as those visiting were barred from leaving the park until they returned a negative test for Covid-19.

The Disneyland park in Chuansha New Town abruptly shut its gates on Monday at 11.39am local time, locking down the main theme park and areas around it, including its shopping street, to conduct mass testing.

The sudden measures came after a 31-year-old woman, who had visited the park among other places in recent days, tested positive for the virus.

“All guests have exited the park” following “expedited Covid testing”, Disney said Tuesday but did not confirm when it would resume operations.

The city government has ordered everyone who visited Disneyland since Thursday to undergo three negative test results over three consecutive days.

On Tuesday, millions of Shanghai residents were served fresh stay-at-home orders and mandatory testing notices amid China’s strict zero-Covid policy.

Several people who visited the park said they were unable to leave for work and their children could not go to their schools since Thursday as they have to submit three days of negative Covid tests.

Parkgoers fear their families might be shifted into central quarantine.

People stand in line for Coronavirus PCR test in Shanghai, China on 28 October (EPA)
People stand in line for Coronavirus PCR test in Shanghai, China on 28 October (EPA)

Some visitors who spent hours at the theme park on Thursday said they, and several children, were cold and hungry till night before they were allowed to leave.

Marvis He, who came from Shenzhen with the hope of enjoying the park’s Halloween-themed fireworks, told Reuters she was allowed to leave at 10pm.

“I feel disappointed, we waited so long in the park... but we didn’t get to see anything and only got to get out at 10 pm,” she said.

“We were also cold and hungry,” her companion added.

The abrupt lockdown sparked panic among visitors, with videos showing people running towards the gates to escape the measures. One video on Weibo showed an employee wearing mask, asking trapped guests to “please return and take a tour in the park”.

“The park’s gates are all closed temporarily, and you cannot leave now,” the employee could be heard saying in the video.

A photo also showed technicians in white protective suits taking throat swabs from guests till late evening in the dark while police watched as a fireworks display lit up in the sky behind them.

“The most beautiful nucleic acid detection point,” wrote the account user who uploaded the photo.

The new restrictions in Shanghai have sparked fears among residents who were confined to their homes in one of the strictest two-months-long lockdown in March following the outbreak of Covid cases.

It was the second time the park was unexpectedly shut with visitors inside. In November last year, some 30,000 people were left trapped inside the theme park after Shanghai authorities ordered tests.

The snap closure of Disneyland was followed by extraordinary scenes of a mass exodus of employees from a locked-down Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou.

Workers were forced to walk hundreds of miles to reach their hometowns after some 200,000 workers at the plant were put under a “closed-loop” system to curb the spread of Covid.

The restrictions prompted complaints of poor living conditions and inadequate food.

China is reporting more than 1,000 new Covid cases a day, a relatively small number in comparison to other parts of the world. However, millions of Chinese people are under 200 different lockdowns in different parts of the country.

Chinese president Xi Jinping signalled no relaxations in such restrictions and zero-Covid policy during the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party last month. He said it was the “people’s war to stop the spread of the virus”.