Shanghai reopens subway as it looks to lift Covid lockdown

Shanghai reopens subway as it looks to lift Covid lockdown

After some lines had been closed for almost two months, the city reopened a small part of the world's longest subway system, as it paves the way for a more complete lifting of its Covid 19 lockdown next week.

With most of the residents not allowed to leave their homes and restrictions tightening in parts of China's most populous city, commuters needed strong reasons to travel.

In recent months, a lockdown and curbs have battered consumption, industrial output and other sectors of the Chinese economy, prompting pledges of support from policymakers.

Many who ventured out in the commercial hub wore blue protective gowns and face shields. Some passengers were seen keeping empty seats inside the carriages. Crowds were small.

Xu Jihua, a migrant construction worker, arrived at a subway stop before it opened at 7 am, hoping to get to a railway station, then home to the eastern province of Anhui.

On March 16, work stopped, said Xu, who had not been able to earn his monthly salary of 7,000 -- 8,000 yuan $1,000 -- $1,100 and would only return to Shanghai once he was sure he could find work.

Is the lockdown lifting or not? It is not very clear. A woman who asked to be identified by her surname, Li, said she needed to visit her father in a hospital 8 km 5 miles from her final stop.

I'm going to the heart hospital, but I don't know whether there will be any cars or transport once I get to the railway station, Li said. Four of the 20 lines were reopened, and 273 bus lines were opened. Some had closed in late March, others later, although sporadic service continued with a limited number of stops.

The city of 25 million expects to lift its city-wide lockdown and return to normal life on 1 June. Most restrictions on movement will remain in place this month.

According to the latest data, Shanghai's 800 km metro system averaged 7.7 m rides a day in 2020, with an annual passenger throughput of 2.8 billion.

For limited hours, trains will run 20 minutes apart. Commuters must show no results of PCR tests taken within 48 hours and scan their body temperature at the entrance.

More people can walk out of their homes with the help of community transmissions, as the convenience stores and wholesale markets have been reopened.

Part of the city has recently tightened curbs, underlying the difficulty of resuming normal life under China's zero-Covid policy, which is increasingly at odds with the rest of the world.

Jingan, a key commercial district, said on Saturday it would require all shops to shut down and residents to stay home until at least Tuesday, as it carries out mass testing.

The use of exit permits, previously given to residents who allowed them to leave their homes for short walks, will be suspended, authorities said without giving a reason.

Similar actions were announced on Friday in the Hongkou district as well as on Saturday by the Zhaoxiang town, which said they wanted to consolidate the results of their epidemic prevention efforts.

On Sunday, Shanghai reported fewer than 700 daily cases. There was no outside of quarantined areas, as they have been the case for much of the past week. The capital, Beijing, reported 61 cases, down from 70.

Beijing has been tightening restrictions since April 22 with many shops closed, public transport curtailed and residents asked to work from home. It still struggles to deal with an outbreak of dozens of new infections a day.

The regulators said on Friday that they would streamline the process of bond issuance by companies hit by the pandemic and urged brokers and fund managers to channel more money into the virus-hit sectors.