Chinese officials set April 20 as the turning point of “zero-COVID at the community level” in Shanghai, allowing the city to ease its lockdown, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on April 17.
The move came after Shanghai implemented its citywide lockdown in early April. Under the zero-COVID policy, people were confined at home, struggling to access food and basic supplies.
Since then, public anger has been growing. Many residents blamed the authorities on social media for their handling of the situation. Tensions have also sparked occasional protests and confrontations with police.
Despite the strict measures, Shanghai was hit by a record surge in COVID-19 cases. China’s financial hub has registered more than 320,000 infections since early March.
On April 17, Shanghai added 2,417 local confirmed COVID cases and 19,831 local asymptomatic infections.
The city’s Baoshan District Committee secretary, Chen Jie, gave a speech on April 16. He said, “The State Council Working Group, the municipal party committee and municipal government have asked that the turning point of the epidemic should appear on the 17th and that zero-COVID status should be reached on the 20th.”
The speech added, “This is a military order, there is no room for bargaining, we can only grit our teeth and fight for victory. It can also be said this is a total attack, a last-ditch battle to reverse the trend of the epidemic.”
The indefinite lockdown measures implemented to tame the spread of COVID-19 resulted in clogging highways and ports and closing various factories.
With the toll of lockdowns on the Chinese economy, automakers said they might have to suspend production entirely if suppliers in Shanghai and surrounding areas cannot resume work.
China’s industry regulator announced on Friday, April 15, that 666 companies in Shanghai’s semiconductor, automobile, and medical industries had been chosen as priority firms that needed to resume operations.
Tesla will reopen its Shanghai factory on April 18.