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Shanghai officials said on Sunday that “unreasonable” restrictions on businesses will be lifted on June 1 as it seeks to lift its COVID-19 lockdown. And Beijing reopened parts of its public transport and some shopping malls and other venues as infections stabilized.
China’s mall of 25 million people is essentially aiming to end a two-month lockdown on Wednesday that has severely damaged the economy and seen many residents lose income, struggle to stock up on food and cope in isolation.
The painful coronavirus curbs in major Chinese cities run counter to trends seen in the rest of the world, which has largely attempted to return to normal life even as infections spread.
Shanghai, China’s most populous city, will end many conditions for businesses to resume work on June 1. The city has also launched measures to support its economy, including reducing some taxes on car purchases, accelerating the issuance of local government bonds and speeding up real estate approvals. projects.
COVID LOCKDOWN IN CHINA’S LARGEST CITY IS COMING TO END
Shanghai will ask banks to renew loans to small and medium enterprises for a total of 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) this year.
“We will fully support and organize the resumption of work and production of enterprises in various sectors and fields,” Vice Mayor Wu Qing told reporters, adding that the “unreasonable” COVID restrictions on enterprises would be lifted.
Wu did not give details of the restrictions that would be lifted.
Shanghai in April began publishing “whitelists” of major auto, life science, chemical and semiconductor makers allowed to resume operations.
But many of the priority businesses had suppliers who were unable to reopen, so they still faced logistical bottlenecks.
Many industry executives also complained about the onerous COVID restrictions as they needed to find sleeping quarters for staff trying to self-isolate and implement rigorous disinfection. Most businesses in the city are still closed.
All “whitelists” would be abolished, Wu said.
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Earlier on Sunday, city government spokeswoman Yin Xin said Shanghai would relax testing requirements from Wednesday for people who want to enter public spaces to encourage a return to work.
“The current epidemic situation in the city continues to stabilize and improve,” Yin said, adding that Shanghai’s strategy is “moving towards normalized prevention and control.”
People entering public places or taking public transport should present a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours, compared to 48 hours previously.
Bus service in the Pudong New Area, home to Shanghai’s biggest airport and main financial district, will resume in full by Monday, officials said.
Plaza 66, a mall in central Shanghai that houses Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands, reopened on Sunday.
Authorities have slowly eased the brakes, with a focus on reviving manufacturing.
More people have been allowed to leave their homes and more businesses can reopen, although many residents remain largely confined to housing complexes and most shops are only open for delivery service.
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Private cars are not allowed out without permission and most public transport in the city is closed. Authorities have yet to announce detailed plans on how the lockdown will be lifted.
In the capital of Beijing, libraries, museums, theaters and gymnasiums were allowed to reopen on Sunday, but with limits on the number of people in districts that have seen no community cases of COVID for seven consecutive days. .
Fangshan and Shunyi districts will end work-from-home rules, while public transport will largely resume in both districts as well as in Chaoyang, the city’s largest. Yet dining out is banned across the city.
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Shanghai reported just over 100 new COVID cases on Sunday, while Beijing recorded 21, both in line with a nationwide downward trend.
China’s economy has shown signs of recovery this month after a slump in April, but activity is weaker than a year ago and many analysts expect a contraction in the second quarter.
The strength and durability of any recovery will largely depend on COVID, with the highly transmissible omicron variant proving difficult to eliminate and prone to comebacks.
Investors are worried about the lack of a roadmap to exit the zero-COVID strategy of ending all epidemics pretty much at all costs, a flagship policy of President Xi Jinping. He is expected to win an unprecedented third term at a congress of the ruling Communist Party in the fall.
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Markets expect more support for the economy.
“We expect further policy easing on the fiscal front to stimulate demand given the downward pressures on growth and the uncertainty of the pace of the recovery,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote on Friday. in a note.