Business in Shanghai is falling, but restrictions in China are tightening


Chinese authorities are tightening coronavirus restrictions in Shanghai and Beijing, heeding a message from the country’s top leader to double down on its zero-covid strategy.

In Shanghai, where residents have been locked up since April 1, private food delivery services were suspended in some neighborhoods, despite cases dropping to a six-week low. Some residents were told not to leave their homes and that the government would help deliver groceries.

In Beijing, where the daily number of cases rose to 74 on Monday, officials announced the schools would be closed indefinitely, and many of the city’s office workers have been told to work from home. Other cities in China continue to pursue various forms of partial or complete lockdown.

In fact, the tightening comes as China’s daily count hit its lowest point since mid-March, with a nationwide total of 3,426 new cases reported Monday. However, local officials have been on high alert since the country’s top leader, Xi Jinping, urged the country to press ahead with a strategy to eradicate the virus and not allow any criticism of the approach. Now alone in its zero-covid strategy, China has used its success in keeping infections and deaths low to claim that its way of centralized governance prioritizes saving lives compared to democracies that have had more Covid deaths .

There were other signs on Tuesday that urban life had come to a standstill in Shanghai, where the last two subway lines that had continued to operate during the citywide lockdown were no longer working.

City residents also reported being told they could be sent to government isolation facilities if anyone in their building was infected with the coronavirus. Previously, only those who lived on the same floor as someone who tested positive had to go to a government agency

The rigid policy is drawing more complaints and small protests that have surfaced online, and there are reports of residents being shaken up by pandemic workers.

In his message last week, Mr Xi urged officials not to tolerate criticism.

Videos of neighborhood protests and clashes between residents and health workers in Shanghai have been posted on Chinese social media and quickly removed. Also dissenting voices are quickly silenced. An economist who warned of economic consequences had his public social media accounts blocked. An article by a law professor stating that forcing people who tested positive to go to hospitals was a violation of the law was scrapped; his social media account was also suspended.

Residents have expressed fears of being sent to a government facility where conditions could be appalling. Videos of police and health workers dragging people out of their apartments circulated widely online before being censored.

In a widely-used video verified by The New York Times, a man in a hazmat suit approaches a resident’s window, points his finger at her and demands that she speak to police officers at her door.

The woman is then seen trying to talk to the men through her front door, but several of them break open the door and force their way inside. The woman repeatedly asks the officers to prove that she has tested positive before taking her to solitary confinement. facility. They tell her that she has violated the Covid prevention policy and that they have an order from the disease prevention agency to transfer her to an isolation facility. When the exchange heats up, she grabs her phone to call the police.

One of the men replies, “If you called the police, I’d still be the one to come.”

Isabelle Qiancontributed reporting, and Claire Fu research contributed.

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