Shanghai springs back to life as COVID lockdown lifts

STORY: People cheered in Shanghai’s French Concession in the early hours of Wednesday, after the city finally released most of its 25 million residents from a strict lockdown at midnight.

Some people gathered with friends they hadn’t seen in person for two months, champagne in hand.

Others wandered the streets, just to be outside.

"I feel a bit of social anxiety. I haven’t seen people on the street for a long time, outside of people from my community compound. I am excited but also a bit confused. I’m worried I’m not quite used to seeing so many people."

As daylight came, Shanghai’s streets, parks and shops hummed back to life.

But for some, the allure of a return to normal quickly faded.

"Things like losing jobs and family members because of the pandemic in the past two months have been forgotten in this split second. Actually, I feel sad deep inside.”

China has gone against the global consensus that COVID-19 cannot be decisively defeated and has imposed a zero-tolerance policy to stamp out any outbreaks.

During Shanghai’s lockdown, many residents of the country's key financial and economic hub struggled to get food or medical care.

Families were separated and hundreds of thousands were forced into centralized quarantine facilities.

Despite criticisms that its zero-COVID policy is unsustainable, China is sticking fast to its goal of cutting off every infection chain, at any cost.

Life in Shanghai is not quite back to a pre-COVID normal.

Residents now have to test every 72 hours to take public transport and enter public venues.

And those who test positive for COVID-19, and their close contacts, still face difficult quarantines.

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