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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: COVID-19 story in China is in part a tale of three cities

Virus Outbreak China shanghai
Ng Han Guan/AP
A police patrol vehicle monitors the crowd along the bund, Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Shanghai. Traffic, pedestrians and joggers reappeared on the streets of Shanghai on Wednesday as China's largest city began returning to normalcy amid the easing of a strict two-month COVID-19 lockdown that has drawn unusual protests over its heavy-handed implementation. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

This is a big day in Shanghai. China’s commercial capital is starting to come out of a two-month lockdown. But the COVID story in China remains complicated — and varies from city to city.

Most of Shanghai’s 25 million residents can walk around outside Wednesday. That’s an international headline because it’s been two months since that’s been the case.

But this sense of freedom is relative — and fragile.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will face immediate quarantine or hospitalization — and the area where they live could go back into lockdown.

There are some requirements.

Residents need to carry a smartphone with an app vouching for their health status.

Anyone wanting to use public transport has to show proof of a negative PCR test within the past 72 hours — and it’s a similar story with shopping malls.

In Beijing, shopping malls were back in business over the weekend, after a recent series of outbreaks in the city.

Other restrictions have been eased, but restaurants are still only open for takeout. Parks, movie theaters and gyms re-opened on Monday, but only at half their capacity.

In Hong Kong, the Chief Executive says she’ll take a “very prudent approach” to further easing social distancing rules.

Carrie Lam cited recent infection clusters, including two cases involving bars.

She told a news conference Tuesday that a delay in easing nightlife restrictions wouldn’t affect society very much, but warned that a wider outbreak of the virus could put jobs at risk.

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