Shanghai on Sunday reopened a small part of the world’s longest subway system after some lines had been closed for nearly two months, as the city paved the way for a more complete lifting of its painful COVID-19 lockdown next week.
In some parts of China’s most populous city, most residents were not allowed to leave their homes and restrictions were imposed, requiring strong reasons for passengers to travel early Sunday.
Lockdown in Shanghai and sanctions in other cities have disrupted consumption, industrial production and other sectors of the Chinese economy in recent months, promising support from policymakers.
Many who went out to the commercial center wore blue protective gowns and face shields. Inside the car, passengers were seen keeping some empty seats among themselves. The crowd was low.
Xu Jihua, a migrant construction worker, arrived at a subway stop before opening at 7 a.m., hoping to get to a train station, then home in the eastern province of Anhui.
“The work stops on March 16,” Xu said, adding that he has not been able to earn a monthly salary of 7,000-8,000 yuan ($ 1,000- $ 1,100) since then and will return to Shanghai when he is sure he will find work.
“Is the lockdown really happening? It’s not very clear.”
A woman who was only asked to identify by her surname Lee said she had to meet her father at a hospital 8 kilometers (5 miles) from her final stop.
“I’m going to Hart Hospital, but I don’t know if there will be any cars or transport after I get to the train station,” Lee said. “I might have to walk there.”
Four of the 20 lines have been reopened and 273 bus routes. Some were closed in late March, others later, although sporadic services continued with a limited number of stops.
The 25 Million City hopes to lift its citywide lockdown from June 1 and return to a more normal life. Most restrictions on movement will remain in place this month.
Shanghai’s 800-km metro system averaged 7.7 million rides per day in 2020, according to the latest data, with an annual passenger throughput of 2.8 billion.
Trains will run for 20 minutes at limited intervals. Passengers must scan their body temperature at the entrance and show a negative result of a PCR test taken within 48 hours.
Shanghai has slowly reopened convenience stores and wholesale markets and allowed more people to walk out of their homes, essentially eliminating community infections.
Nevertheless, parts of the city have recently tightened their control over the difficulty of resuming normal life under China’s zero-quad policy, which is in growing conflict with the rest of the world.
Jingan, a key commercial district, said on Saturday that all shops would have to be closed and residents would have to stay home until at least Tuesday, as it carried out extensive tests.
The use of the exit permit, previously given to residents who allowed them to leave their homes for short walks, will be suspended, authorities said without giving any reason.
Similar measures were announced in Hanku District on Friday and in Zhaoxiang City in Qingdao District on Saturday, saying they wanted to “consolidate” the results of their epidemic prevention efforts so far.
Shanghai reported less than 700 daily cases on Sunday. Significantly, no one was outside the quarantine area, as has been the case for most of the past week. The capital, Beijing, has reported 61 cases, down from 70.
Beijing has been gradually tightening restrictions since April 22, closing many shops, reducing public transport and forcing residents to work from home. However, it still fights out dozens of new infections every day.
Tianjin, an important northeastern port, received 36 new cases on Saturday, CCTV reported.
Regulators said Friday they would streamline the process of issuing equities and bonds by companies affected by the epidemic and called on brokerage and fund managers to provide more funding to the virus-infected sector.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)