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Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022

Shanghai bustles again as life returns to normal

The streets of Shanghai were bustling again on Wednesday, with residents eager to get out and about. From early morning onward, many people were seen at landmark sites, including the Bund and the riverside in Pudong New Area.

Figures from the bike-sharing app Meituan showed that cycle trips rose by 535 percent during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, compared with the same time last week.

In a letter of thanks to Shanghai residents, the city's Party committee and the municipal government said, "After all these unforgettable days, when the metropolis was paused unprecedentedly, Shanghai has achieved major milestones in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus."

The letter stated that the major task now is economic recovery and consolidating hard-won epidemic control results.

"With the city's characteristics of openness, innovation and inclusiveness, Shanghai will strive to build a stronger, safer and more attractive environment for individuals and business development, and give people more reasons to have trust, remain in the city, and to love Shanghai," the letter added.

On Tuesday, Shanghai registered 15 new COVID-19 infections, all detected in quarantined populations. The number of daily infections in the city has fallen to double digits for three consecutive days.

Back on the roads

Before midnight on Tuesday, all tunnels and bridges linking both sides of the Huangpu River reopened. Police also removed barriers isolating districts.

The ringing of the Custom House bell on the Bund at midnight on Tuesday was accompanied by drivers sounding their horns to herald life in the city returning to normal.

Public transportation services, including buses, metro lines and ferries, resumed full operations. Shanghai's metro authority said that by 11 am on Wednesday, 913,000 passenger trips had been made on the city's subway network.

Cars from low-risk areas of the city can also hit the road again. Police said traffic was generally stable and flowing smoothly during the morning rush hour. The number of vehicles on the roads was about 60 percent of the average figure before the current outbreak emerged.

Chen Dong, deputy traffic police chief in the downtown district of Jing'an, said, "As many drivers needed to buy fuel, we deployed more officers at gasoline stations in the area to avoid congestion."

Taxis and other ride-hailing services also resumed operations.

A driver with the ride-hailing giant Didi, surnamed Zhang, resumed work before 7 am on Wednesday after receiving a booking the previous day to take a passenger to the Hongqiao Transport Hub.

"I felt quite excited to finally hit the road again," said Zhang, who for the past two months stayed in an apartment in Baoshan district with three fellow drivers. For the first month, they relied on instant noodles, as they did not have any cooking utensils.

Gu Xinyun, who works for SAIC Volkswagen, said the company called on its employees to help neighbors jump-start their vehicles, as the batteries may have become flat after two months.

He said more than 10 neighbors asked him for help in a week. While most of their problems were solved, some cars had serious power loss, with the batteries needing to be replaced.

"I'll help neighbors jump-start their vehicles and they can then drive them to the maintenance shop," Gu said.

Commerce returns

After putting up the shutters for two months, the Green Bazaar restaurant, which sells light meals at the Bund Finance Center, is ready to welcome more customers.

Wang Ningning, the eatery's manager, said most employees who returned to work were excited. "We've been waiting for so long," she added.

"On Wednesday, the number of customers coming to the restaurant to collect takeout orders was about half that recorded for an average day before the pandemic. Online sales orders exceeded our capacity, so we had to suspend taking them for a time. We're all confident that the market can recover."

Zhao Dan, CEO of the BFC shopping mall, said 200 of its stores, or 96 percent, resumed business on Wednesday, including supermarkets, catering and clothing outlets.

In addition, more than 2,000 employees at 110 enterprises, or 90 percent of the total number based in the mall's office buildings, have resumed work, Zhao said.

Wang Yu, who lives in Huangpu district, visited the mall with her daughter, who is a kindergarten pupil, to celebrate the city returning to normal.

"People are very friendly to each other on the streets today," Wang said.

Shanghai's victory over its worst outbreak of COVID-19 in two years was a result of joint efforts by residents. After the citywide lockdown was imposed on April 1, daily infection numbers peaked at 27,719 on April 13.

The daily total gradually fell last month, and the city finally achieved zero transmission in all 16 districts on May 17, except for quarantined and locked down populations.

This success came after numerous rounds of nucleic acid and antigen tests, with residents required to self-isolate at home, and most infected patients being treated at makeshift hospitals.

On Tuesday, the largest makeshift hospital, which provided 50,000 beds and was renovated from the National Exhibition and Convention Center, was closed.

Three makeshift hospitals providing a total of 20,000 beds have been retained in Shanghai to meet future epidemic prevention and control requirements. At the peak of the outbreak, there were 120 makeshift hospitals in the city, providing more than 300,000 beds.

Yin Xin, spokeswoman for the Shanghai government, said, "Our city is ushering in a brand-new start, which we have long looked forward to and dedicated a lot to achieve."


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