Shanghai / Beijing:
On Thursday, for the first time in almost two months, more Shanghai residents were given the freedom to shop for groceries as authorities made further plans to exit the city-wide COVID-19 lockdown more completely.
The 25 million commercial center recorded no new infections outside the quarantine area for the fifth day in a row, further cementing its “zero COVID-19” status with each passing day.
“I’m glad the lockdown is starting to pick up,” said shopper Zhang Renkyu at a Carrefour supermarket in the central Changning district, which has just reopened.
“We relied heavily on government regulations and group purchases,” said Zhang, who stocks eggs, goji berries, black sesame and oats.
But officials are wary of the danger of a new outbreak in their high-level efforts to slowly reopen and plan to keep most residents indoors this month and prioritize work and production over other activities.
Deputy Mayor Zhang Wei said economic activity has been restored where businesses have been able to operate with workers living on site and authorities will allow the resumption of more normal activities from the beginning of June.
The city is “trying to get work and production fully restored as soon as possible,” he said.
The “work recovery rhythm” will be based on the Covid-19 situation, he said, adding that for the rest of May, work restrictions on the site will remain in place.
Some housing compounds in Changning District on Thursday distributed passes to residents to enter the Carrefour store.
Each family had passes to go to the store for 40 minutes and cost up to 500 yuan ($ 74). Residents were advised to walk or cycle to the store and line up two meters away from the entrance.
Some shoppers wore protective gowns, others wore face shields and gloves.
In another positive sign, four of the city’s 18 metro lines will reopen on Sunday.
Shanghai has reported less than 800 new cases. For the fifth day in a row, no one was outside the quarantine area.
The capital, Beijing, did not impose a city-wide shutdown, but gradually imposed restrictions last month to contain a small but persistent outbreak of dozens of new infections a day. It reported 55 new cases on May 18, down from 69.
Signs of life
Deputy Mayor Zhang said Shanghai’s economy was slowly returning to normal, with daily container throughput at its port reaching 90% of the level a year earlier.
Cargo throughput at Pudong Airport reached 70% of last year’s level, while the number of freight vehicles entering and leaving the city returned to two-thirds, he said.
Nearly half of the Taiwanese companies that suspended work in China over Kovid-19 have resumed production, the democratically-ruled island’s economy minister said.
As another sign of improvement in China’s manufacturing, the data shows that retail car sales increased 27% in the first half of May from the same period in April.
But they were still 21% lower than a year earlier.
The Covid-19 ban in May was not as severe and extensive as in April, but still weighed on growth.
Goldman Sachs on Wednesday cut its 2022 economic growth forecast for China from 4.5% to 4%, well below the government’s official target of around 5.5% and warned that it could slip further.
China’s “zero covid” policy has placed millions of people in dozens of cities under various sanctions, disrupting global production and companies, from Apple and Tesla to Starbucks and Walmart.
The New York Federal Reserve reported in a recent update to a global index of supply problems that increased air freight costs between the United States and Asia in April and extended global delivery times.
This could mean continued worldwide inflation and rising debt costs.
British luxury brand Barberry said on Wednesday that its prospects depend on how quickly China, its largest market where sales have fallen, recovering from the lockdown.
(1 = 6.7582 Chinese Yuan Renminbi)
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)