Residents shop at a supermarket in Putuo district of Shanghai, on May 5, 2022. (Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily)
As daily case numbers continue to fall, city's residents facing fewer constraints
For many residents living in Shanghai's downtown areas, leaving their housing compound to go shopping at a nearby supermarket is a big step toward normal life after spending more than a month in lockdown.
As the city experiences a steady decline in the daily tally of new infections, lockdown restrictions have been lifted in some districts where zero community transmission has been achieved.
While limited mobility has been allowed in the city's six suburban districts－Songjiang, Fengxian, Jinshan, Qingpu, Chongming and Jiading－residents in the city's downtown Putuo district are also allowed to go shopping at nearby supermarkets, which resumed offline operations on Thursday.
At 8:30 am on Thursday, a number of customers carrying bags or pushing small trolleys were already waiting in a winding line to enter a Metro supermarket in Putuo.
"We make sure the customers maintain social distancing and avoid gathering by lining them up in a snaking format," said Wang Hongyu, manager of the supermarket.
According to Wang, all the customers live in nearby neighborhoods categorized as precautionary zones. A time slot is allotted for each community to come and shop.
The market allows 300 people to shop for 45 minutes each to prevent crowds, after which staff members spend 15 minutes disinfecting areas including those for cashiers, frozen food and restrooms, to ensure the health and safety for the next lot of customers, Wang said.
"In addition to their green health code, customers need to present their community pass card and booking to shop," he added.
Holding a big bag of groceries, Liu Li was one of the supermarket's first customers on Thursday.
"The food I bought are the things I missed the most and found difficult to secure during the lockdown," he said.
To Deng Huaihua, a retiree living in the Taopu subdistrict of Putuo, shopping offline at a nearby supermarket is quite a relief.
Carrying his recently bought bags of food and daily necessities, he said, "I prefer to select goods in a market, because I'm not good at using a smartphone to order online."
At Lianhua Supermarket's Taopu branch, besides a maximum customer flow of 120 people per hour, the maximum purchase for each customer is capped at 500 yuan ($75) to ensure the sufficient supply of goods for those shopping in the evening, according to Wang Xing, manager of the market.
"We also encourage our customers to use our self-service checkout to prevent gathering," he said.
The city is now paving the way for more people to get back to work and more enterprises to resume operations.
Nearly 9,000 nucleic acid testing sites have been set up, with half of them operational as of Wednesday for essential workers and people returning to work, according to the city government.
Chen Shiyan, deputy director of the city's development and reform commission, said it has worked with related departments to create a "15-minute nucleic acid test circle", which allows for people to get a test within a 15-minute walk from their homes or companies.
A search function for those nucleic acid test sites has been added in the government's public affairs e-portal Sui Shen Ban, Chen said.
Zhang Hongtao, an official with Shanghai's economic and informatization commission, said the commission has published the second edition of its guideline for industrial enterprises to resume production.
The updated directives recommend companies establish four zones with physical barriers for normal production, newly returned workers, close contacts and infected cases. Each zone must operate in accordance with epidemic prevention protocols similar to that of precautionary, controlled and lockdown zones.
Around 70 percent of the 1,800 key enterprises in Shanghai have resumed operation, including those in automobile, integrated circuit and biomedicine industries, Zhang added.
The city commercial commission also published a guideline for commercial enterprises to resume operation on Thursday, which included a two-day monitoring period for newly returned staff and mandatory daily antigen and nucleic acid tests for each employee.
Zhao Dandan, deputy director of Shanghai's health commission, said the city reported 261 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 4,390 asymptomatic carriers and 13 deaths on Wednesday.
The city now has 16.4 million people living in precautionary zones, 4.51 million in controlled zones and 2.34 million in locked-down zones.