SHANGHAI yesterday provided its clearest timetable yet on lifting the COVID-19 lockdown, as the city government plans to fully restore normal life from June 1.
Vice Mayor Zong Ming said that Shanghai would reopen in stages, with movement curbs largely to remain in place until Saturday to prevent a rebound in infections, before an easing.
“From June 1 to middle and late June, as long as risks of a rebound in infections are controlled, we will fully implement pandemic prevention and control, normalize management, and fully restore normal production and life in the city,” she told the city’s daily coronavirus press briefing yesterday.
Fifteen of the city’s 16 districts had stamped out transmission outside quarantined areas, allowing them to provide a roadmap to exit the lockdown in three stages.
Under the plan, movement curbs will remain largely in place until Saturday. “Precautionary areas” will open in an orderly manner with limited movement and effective control. The city will keep “low social movement” during this period to prevent a rebound in infections.
From Sunday to the end of this month, should daily infection numbers continue to fall, epidemic management will shift to a “normalization” phase.
From June 1 until the end of next month, the city will seek to fully reopen.
Public transport, trains and flights will gradually resume.
Since yesterday, taxis and private cars have been allowed back on the roads in suburban districts that have already achieved “zero community transmission,” such as Jinshan and Fengxian as well as some towns in the Pudong New Area.
In downtown districts such as Xuhui and Huangpu as well as outlying districts of Minhang and Baoshan and some subdistricts in Pudong, an e-pass is required for vehicles to hit the road; taxis can be booked for emergency needs, including going to hospital. Online hailing service will be managed as private cars.
Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and Shanghai Railway Station started to increase the number of arrivals and departures yesterday.
Meanwhile, airlines will begin to increase domestic flights. The limit on load factors will be adjusted for flights operated by both domestic and overseas airlines.
From Sunday, buses and subways will resume operations gradually under certain conditions. Passengers must have a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test report from within the past 48 hours.
Shanghai had suspended all public transport and barred people from driving without prior approval during the past few weeks when the lockdown was in force amid the COVID-19 resurgence.
Work and public life
Shanghai has published two white lists comprising nearly 2,000 companies prioritized 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 yesterday, while hair salons, vegetable markets and laundry-related businesses will also be gradually allowed to receive visitors.
Movie theaters, museums, cultural venues, gyms must remain closed for now.
Schools, which suspended in-person classes in March, will reopen in stages, giving priority to students who will take college and high-school entrance exams soon.
Kindergartens and nursery schools will remain closed. College students are allowed to return home.
Some parks in the city’s suburban districts such as Fengxian reopened yesterday but capped visitors at 50 percent of capacity and required negative PCR tests taken within the last 48 hours.
Residents have been told to prepare for frequent COVID testing and more intense monitoring after they exit the 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.
The number of local daily infections declined about 30 percent to 938 on Sunday, all inside areas under the strictest controls.
In relatively freer areas, the ones monitored to gauge progress in eradicating the outbreak, no new cases were found for a second day in a row. A third day would mean “zero COVID” status has been achieved and restrictions can begin to ease.
Close to 19 million local residents, 76 percent of the city’s total population, are now in “precautionary areas,” which are communities, villages, companies and sites without a positive case in the past two weeks.
The number of residents in “locked-down areas” is slightly less than 1 million, while more than 3 million are in “controlled areas.”
Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Health Commission, said the shrinking population in “locked-down areas” shows the city’s antigen-plus-PCR screening and other prevention measures are effective.
The city reported four more COVID-19 deaths on Sunday with an average age of 86.5 years. All had severe underlying conditions and only one was vaccinated.
Of COVID-19 patients in local designated and makeshift hospitals, 261 have severe symptoms and 65 are in critical condition.