At the end of March, Shanghai authorities shut down the city despite having said earlier that they would avoid doing so, citing economic-related reasons. Then came the 2 months of painful lockdown. Chaos happened everywhere, from supermarkets, residential communities, to local committee offices. All the struggles and suffering during this time are imprinted on every Shanghai resident. After brief freedom, residents in the city fell into panic again as authorities announced large-scale testing on June 9. As infected cases reappear, some residential communities are under restriction again. Long days confined at home have left the residents with a haunting experience, so bad that they feel the urge to prepared in advance in case another potential lockdown could be implemented anytime. And here comes the chaotic Shanghai, all over again.
Reuters reported on June 9 that large-scale testing would take place in 7 districts in Shanghai. Officials announced they would be conducting mass Covid-testing on the weekend of June 11-June 12 after new Covid cases were found in the city.
After the news broke out, many Shanghai residents rushed to supermarkets for food supplies and other necessities. Videos on the Internet show crowded supermarkets with people lining up at check-out counters. The meat and vegetable sections were almost emptied. Some residents struggled to obtain food.
A resident named Li from Pudong district told Da Ji Yuan news outlet, “The people know very well in their hearts that they must prepare a few supplies in case they are found to be positive. The citizens will be locked up for 14 days. So they quickly go to purchase things to prepare at home.”
The Pudong resident also speculated that city authorities might close the districts again. However, he thought that they would not dare to take the same approach they did for the past 2 months. He said they might seal off the areas where the epidemic is strong and leave other places unsealed. That’s to create the impression that the city is not fully closed. But in reality, many daily life activities are restricted.
Protesting against the partial lockdowns
Following government notice, residents in most districts were confined to their houses until the testing in their neighborhoods was done.
In a series of videos uploaded on June 10, citizens filmed many scenes of Shanghai during this period. Prevention and control workers gathered together in many communities to prevent residents from leaving.
The unexpected re-lockdowns have sparked anger among the residents. Recently, residents of Changle Road in Jing’an District protested against the closure of the District and forced isolation.
A Shanghai man stood behind the iron fence protesting with a loudspeaker in his hand, playing a recording. According to the recorded audio, he was denouncing that on June 4, unidentified staff broke in and imprisoned his community without permission.
On June 8, the Chinese painter Hua Yong posted a video on Twitter showing that the man who played the recording was forced into a police car. People at the scene supported him by shouting at the police and asking why they arrested people.
One said, “Arresting people can be done without a basis. They set up green iron fences without telling us the reasons and regulations. Not a single reason! And then, now the people are taken away.”
Along with the video, the painter wrote that Shanghai was still in a state of closure. Seeing young people in Shanghai standing up and resisting fearlessly gave him hope. He then cited a quote from a movie: “If you don’t stand up, there is no hope. The prison can hold 10,000 people and can’t hold 1 million people.”
On that day, two neighborhood residents were arrested by police, and two activists lost contact.
Overcrowded testing sites
Bloomberg reported on June 16 that Shanghai will implement city-wide testing on weekends until the end of July. The new regulation came with a temporary lockdown measure in residential complexes that found infected cases the week following the weekend testing. If one fails to conduct a Covid test within a week, his health code on the Chinese tracking app will turn yellow. That means he will not be allowed to use public transport or enter public areas.
Such measures have brought inconvenient experiences for residents who rush to work in the morning. A video shows people trying to scan their code before entering the subway station. Another shows office workers lining up in the rain to take the Covid test on line 9 of the Shanghai Metro Station.
Jaap Grolleman, a Dutch expatriate living in Yangpu district, told the New York Times, “People are worried about taking the subway or going to the shopping mall. You don’t know if someone before you or after you tests positive, meaning that you would be dragged into quarantine or your whole compound would go into lockdown.”
A Shanghai resident told Reuters, “I left the lockdown nightmare only to enter the 72-hour PCR testing nightmare.”
The so-called normalized testing practice has made many residents wait in line for hours.In early June, mainland media reported about an incident in Putuo District, Shanghai.
The local officials told the residents not to line up anymore because the number of people had exceeded the available test tubes for the evening. Many of these people had waited in line for more than two hours.
In response to the announcement, a man expressed displeasure by throwing the roadblock at the testing site, overturning the table—sending collected nucleic acid samples flying to the ground.