Beijing steps up COVID quarantine, Shanghai residents denounce inconsistent rules

  • Around 1,800 Beijing residents quarantined in Hebei – media
  • Vice Premier Sun Chunlan inspects Beijing’s anti-COVID efforts
  • Reduced curbs mean recovery, not economic tipping point – Nomura

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Beijing stepped up quarantine efforts to end its months-long COVID outbreak amid fresh signs of frustration in Shanghai, where some lamented unfair curbs as the city of 25 million prepares to lift a longer lockdown for just over a week.

Even as China’s drastic attempts to eradicate COVID entirely — its “zero-COVID” approach — hurt the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy, newly reported infection numbers remain well below levels seen in many western cities. The capital reported 48 new cases among its population of 22 million for Monday, with Shanghai reporting fewer than 500.

Still, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called for more thorough measures to curb virus transmission and comply with the country’s zero-COVID policy during an inspection tour in Beijing, state-run agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

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The situation in Beijing is manageable, but containment efforts may not let up, she said, according to Xinhua.

In an example of the severity of Beijing’s crackdown, around 1,800 people were relocated from a neighborhood to quarantine in the city of Zhangjiakou in nearby Hebei Province, the state-backed Beijing Daily reported.

There are still instructions for residents in six of the capital’s 16 boroughs to work from home, while another three boroughs encouraged people to follow such measures, with each borough responsible for implementing its own guidelines.

Beijing had already reduced public transport and asked some malls and other venues to close and seal buildings where new cases were discovered.

In Shanghai, authorities plan to keep most of the restrictions in place this month before the two-month-old lockdown is lifted more fully from June 1. Even then, public venues must limit crowd flows to 75% of their capacity.


After Shanghai was officially declared a zero-COVID city, some authorities last week allowed more people to leave their homes for short periods, and more supermarkets and pharmacies were authorized to reopen and offer deliveries.

But other lower-level officials separately tightened restrictions in some neighborhoods, ordering residents to consolidate progress made so far during the city’s latest round of exiting the lockdown.

This has led to frustration and complaints of unequal treatment among some residents.

While the zero-COVID status describes the entire city and residents of some compounds have been allowed to move freely in and out of their homes, others have been told they are only allowed to go out for a few hours, and many of those stuck indoors were nothing said.

Videos circulating on social media this week showed residents arguing with officials about being evicted from their gated communities.

The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One resident told Reuters that people at his compound decided to go out in groups on social media platform WeChat.

“Let’s strike at our gate tonight to demand that we be allowed to go out like many other connections in the neighborhood,” he quoted one of his neighbors as saying in the group chat.

A video he then shared showed a group of people arguing at the entrance to the compound with a man who described himself as a subdistrict officer urging residents to go back inside and discuss the situation.

“Don’t bother with him,” one person said as some people socialized outside the premises.

People in at least two other connections planned to go outside, although they weren’t told they were allowed to do so, local residents said.


At a time when most other countries are moving to models of living with the virus, China’s COVID measures are wreaking havoc on its economy and disrupting global supply chains.

Many analysts expect the economy to contract in the second quarter, even as the overall COVID situation across China and economic activity have improved this month compared to April. Continue reading

In order to support the economy, China will, among other things, expand tax credits, postpone social security payments for small businesses and loan repayments and launch new investment projects, state television quoted the cabinet as saying.

In a positive signal for Shanghai, electric vehicle giant Tesla (TSLA.O) plans to match production levels similar to those before the lockdown at its plant in the city, according to an internal memo obtained by Reuters on Tuesday. Continue reading

Nomura analysts estimate that 26 Chinese cities implemented full or partial lockdowns or other COVID measures as of May 23, accounting for 208 million people and 20.5% of China’s economic output. That would be down from 271 million the week before and 27% of production.

“But for us, this is just a pause and not a turning point,” the analysts wrote in a note. They said crossing a tipping point would depend solely on an exit from the zero-COVID strategy and not so much on daily case counts and monthly activity data.

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Reporting by Engen Tham, Casey Hall, Zhang Yan, Winni Zhou and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Ryan Woo and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; and the Beijing and Shanghai offices; Letter from Marius Zaharia; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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