A dangerous pedestrian dressed as a Shanghai pedestrian, wrapped in whole blocks of police tape and buying panic at a shopping mall in Shenzhen: China is returning to virus controls that many have long been expecting.
The country is suffering the worst outbreak of Covid-19 since the first wave of the Wuhan pandemic erupted in late 2019.
Although the daily case is relatively small, with about 5,300 registered on Tuesday, the Omicron variant is shaking up Beijing’s “zero-Covid” strategy, which means a sharp reduction in the return of massive tests and movement.
Shanghai’s famous waterfront, usually with tourists and locals alike, has been quiet this week as authorities moved to eradicate the rise of Covid cases in China’s largest city.
When a few pedestrian disguises took pictures of the sky while telling staff to stay home, students resorted to online classes and banned dining in restaurants in some neighborhoods.
Instead of a complete blockade imposed on other Chinese cities in a recent virus renaissance, the restrictions in Shanghai were aimed at crushing clusters in specific areas.
But that has allowed residents to choose through a network of local edicts.
“We were told to stop last night (dinner service) and we will obey, otherwise we would have to close if they knew we would be shut down,” a restaurant owner in central Shanghai told AFP.
In a neighboring district, another restaurant owner said the measures allowed people to eat outside.
“We don’t have many customers these days,” he said, adding that anxiety was on the rise.
In Douyin, a Chinese version of TikTok, a restaurant owner complained that a ban on dinner was announced when he rented new premises.
“I’m literally going to cry.”
In Shenzhen, a 17.5 million-strong southern city with a tougher blockade, social media videos showed panic about buying shelves in rapidly emptying supermarkets.
Large red plastic barricades blocked compounds between metastases in high voids between high-rise buildings and blocked access to many lines as the massive PCR test spread.
China’s tight control of Covid has generally had the support of the people: the official death toll has remained low and, after the first chaotic outbreak in Wuhan in 2020, life has largely returned to normal.
“I’m used to it now (control measures), it’s been a long time coming,” Beijing resident Yan Zhiping told AFP.
“As long as we protect ourselves well, there will be no problem.”
But the frequency of Covid cuts has begun to grow in some as Beijing debates whether to adapt to its ongoing zero-Covid policy, especially in the face of the highly transmissive but so serious Omicron variant.
In Shanghai, a neighbor complained online that the city had done a “bad job” and that the government had banned people from sending negative comments.
“Preventing and accurately controlling the virus in Shanghai is just a joke, a very irresponsible joke,” said another.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a union feed.)