Shanghai to tighten COVID rules

China’s financial hub Shanghai said this week it will tighten rules for people entering the city from 24 November to combat the latest COVID-19 outbreak in the country. 

Under the new rules, people who have stayed in Shanghai for less than five days will not be allowed to enter public places such as restaurants, bars, shopping malls, supermarkets, indoor gyms, according to a statement published by the Shanghai government.

They can still go to offices and use public transport, city government said.

China reported 28,127 new domestically transmitted cases for Monday, nearing its daily peak from April, with infections in the southern city of Guangzhou and the southwestern municipality of Chongqing accounting for about half the total.

The wave of infections is testing recent adjustments China has made to its zero-COVID policy, aimed at making authorities more targeted in clampdown measures and steering them away from blanket lockdowns and testing that have strangled the economy and frustrated residents nearly three years into the pandemic.

Tightening measures in Shanghai and elsewhere, even as China tries to avoid city-wide lockdowns like the one that crippled the city last year this year, have renewed investor worries about the world’s second-largest economy, affecting stocks and prompting analysts to cut forecasts for China’s year-end oil demand.

However, the government argues that President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-COVID policy saves lives and is necessary to prevent the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed.

Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who has spearheaded the zero-COVID policy, visited Chongqing on Monday and urged authorities to stick with the plan and bring the outbreak under control, the municipality said.

Indeed, China’s economy faces one of its slowest growth rates in decades: a gigantic property bubble has burst, youth unemployment recently hit record highs, and the private sector has been paralysed by its zero-COVID policy and a series of crackdowns on industries authorities say had seen ‘barbaric’ expansion.