Some in Shanghai are allowed to shop; end of COVID lockdown in sight

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, May 19 (Reuters) – More Shanghai residents were given the freedom to go out for groceries for the first time in nearly two months on Thursday as authorities laid out new plans to exit the lockdown Citywide COVID-19. more fully.

The mall of 25 million people recorded no new infections outside quarantine zones for a fifth consecutive day, bolstering its “COVID-free” status every day.

“I’m very happy the lifting of the lockdown is starting,” shopper Zhong Renqiu said at a Carrefour supermarket (CARR.PA) in the central Changning district that had just reopened.

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“We mainly relied on government arrangements and group purchases,” said Zhong, who stocked up on eggs, goji berries, black sesame and oats.

But officials are wary of the danger of further outbreaks of infection in their high-stakes effort to gradually reopen and plan to keep most residents largely indoors this month, and prioritize work and to production compared to other activities.

Deputy Mayor Zhang Wei said economic activity had resumed with businesses able to operate with workers living locally and authorities would allow more to resume normal operations from early June.

The city “is working to achieve a full resumption of work and production as soon as possible,” he said.

“The pace of resumption of work” would be based on the COVID situation, he said, adding that for the remainder of May, on-site work restrictions would remain in place.

Some housing complexes in the Changning district on Thursday distributed passes for residents to enter the Carrefour store.

The passes allowed one person from each household to go to the store for 40 minutes and spend up to 500 yuan ($74). Residents were advised to walk or cycle to the store and to queue at the entrance two meters apart.

Some buyers wore protective gowns, while others wore face shields and gloves.

Another positive sign is that four of the city’s 18 metro lines will resume operations from Sunday.

Shanghai has reported less than 800 new cases. None came from outside the quarantine zones, for a fifth consecutive day.

The capital Beijing has not imposed a citywide lockdown but has gradually tightened restrictions over the past month to contain a small but persistent outbreak of a few dozen new infections a day. It reported 55 new cases for May 18, down from 69.

SIGNS OF LIFE

Deputy Mayor Zhang said Shanghai’s economy is gradually returning to normal with daily container throughput at its ports at 90 percent of levels a year ago.

Pudong airport’s cargo throughput has reached 70 percent of last year’s levels, while the number of cargo vehicles entering and leaving the city has returned to two-thirds, he said.

About half of Taiwanese companies that suspended work in China due to COVID have resumed production, the democratically-ruled island’s economy minister said. Read more

In another sign of improvement in China’s manufacturing industry, data showed retail car sales jumped 27% in the first half of May from the same period in April.

But they were still down 21% from a year earlier.

COVID restrictions in May were not as strict and widespread as in April, but still weighed on growth.

Goldman Sachs on Wednesday lowered its economic growth forecast for China for 2022 to 4% from 4.5%, well below the government’s official target of around 5.5%, and warned it could still to lower.

China’s “zero COVID” policy has placed hundreds of millions of people in dozens of cities under various restrictions and disrupted global manufacturing and businesses ranging from Apple (AAPL.O) and Tesla (TSLA.O) to Starbucks (SBUX.O) and Walmart (WMT.N).

The New York Federal Reserve reported in its latest update of a Global Supply Challenges Index that air freight costs between the United States and Asia rose in April and delivery times are getting worse. are extended globally. Read more

This could mean continued inflation around the world and rising borrowing costs.

British luxury brand Burberry (BRBY.L) said on Wednesday its outlook hinged on how quickly China, its biggest market where sales had fallen, recovers from lockdowns. Read more

($1 = 6.7582 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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Reporting by Brenda Goh and David Stanway in Shanghai; Yifan Wang and Ryan Woo in Beijing; the Beijing and Shanghai offices; Written by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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