The Chinese city of Shanghai may finally be coming out of a brutal six-week lockdown, with officials saying the metropolis has hit three-day goals of little-to-no community transmission among the 16 districts that make up the global financial hub.
City officials reportedly told media in a press conference there were 77 locally transmitted covid cases and 746 asymptomatic cases on Monday. Bloomberg first reported Monday that new daily infections were down to 823 compared to 938 Sunday. Tuesday numbers were similar, and Zhao Dandan, of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, told gathered press Tuesday’s numbers were similar and that the virus’ spread was under control. Still, CNN reported more than 860,000 remain in complete lockdown, and are not allowed to leave their homes.
City officials told reporters they planned to bring back its production centers starting in June, with food markets opening Monday. Train and plane services are coming back, and the city plans to restore bus and subway connections next week. All will still require negative covid tests for public transport.
In the U.S., some of the country’s public transit has rescinded its mask mandates. Case numbers have been climbing since April, but total daily deaths are on the decline, even as the total number of official covid-related fatalities approaches 1 million.
City officials had previously said they planned to ease lockdowns by May 20, but many zero-covid policy restrictions currently remain in place. Bloomberg has reported that residents are only allowed to leave their homes or compounds with a pass and travel via bike or foot. Residents have been limited in the number of days they can go out and the number of hours they can spend out and about.
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Residents have protested the intense restrictions as reports of forceful quarantining by city law enforcement. In what’s been widely considered the strictest city-wide lockdown since the virus first reared its head, Shanghai has been a hive of reported foot shortages and restricted medical access. Online reports of these issues were quickly stamped out by government censors, according to CNN.
Some residents turned to NFTs, which are tied to blockchain technology and cannot easily be removed, to share images and videos of how the harsh restrictions have impacted daily life.
On the flip side of things, the last instances of manufacturing adjusted to the harsh restrictions with similarly draconian policies. Back in April, Tesla was one of the only companies allowed to operate during the lockdowns. The car maker’s Shanghai factory reportedly forced employees to live, work, and sleep within the shop grounds. The factory indicated it was supplying sleeping bags and mattresses for its workers while mandating tests every three days. It wasn’t until last week that Tesla announced it was ceasing operations at the plant, but only due to supply issues. The factory is meant to produce 2,000 vehicles a day, but was only able to roll out 200.
Of course, Tesla CEO Elon Musk did not seem to identify any irony when he told the Financial Times in a live conference last week “There’s just a lot of super-talented, hard-working people in China that strongly believe in manufacturing… They won’t even leave the factory, type of thing, whereas in America, people are trying to avoid going to work at all.”