The closure imposed in Shanghai after a new outbreak of the Corona virus, caused thousands of people to scramble to stock up on essentials, while others are quarantining in their offices to ensure business continues.
After weeks of sporadic shutdowns in some communities, the city of 25 million has now been split in two.
Earlier this week, those living in the eastern half of Shanghai were asked to stay at home, and the western half is set to go into lockdown on Friday.
The move comes as the city suffers from a spike in omicron cases.
The city has reported about 20,000 cases of COVID-19 since March 1, recording more cases in four weeks compared to the two years prior to the epidemic.
Chinas anti-coronavirus strategy has been increasingly challenged by the highly contagious omicron variant.
Officials in Chinas global financial capital had earlier tried to keep the city running by limiting closures by choosing which neighborhoods or buildings were subject to closure.
On Sunday, however, authorities announced a nationwide lockdown that divided the city along the Huangpu River.
Residents living in Pudong District, on the east bank of the river, were asked to stay indoors for four days from Monday. Boxy, located on the West Bank, will go into lockdown on Friday.
All Shanghai residents are also being mass tested for HIV infections.
Earlier this week, rumors circulated that authorities would renew the Puxi closure for several days or lengthen the city’s quarantine period, crowding residents into stores.
On Tuesday, the authorities sought to resolve this by publishing a statement describing the rumors as “pure rumours.”
But many residents living in the western regions received notice on Tuesday from their housing committees that they would be prohibited from leaving their compounds for seven days, Reuters reported.
What’s life like in divided Shanghai?
BBC staff in town tell us about it:
From Boxy: “On Monday, as I was walking around the central districts of Huangpu, Jing’an, and Shuhui, the streets were full of people stocking up on essentials. Queues I saw in supermarkets and markets stretched out of store doors and down the street, because a limited number of customers were allowed in at a time. One”.
“In a crowded market on a side street, a vendor offered a piece of fresh pork. Customers crowded around him pointing at him and trying their part.”
“On Tuesday, some streets were quieter. Xintiandi, a major shopping district, was extraordinarily quiet. Stores including Apple, Coach and Starbucks were open, but customers deserted.”
From Boxy: “The apartment complex where I lived had closed a few weeks ago. Some neighbors fear losing their jobs due to long absences from work, and some say they are depressed due to the long isolation.”
“Our days are full of messy Covid tests and online shopping. I set my alarm to wake up at 6am every day so I can place online orders for fresh food, sometimes orders get canceled due to out of stock or no delivery guys.”
“There is a lot of waiting and few answers.”
From Pudong: “What time is the next test? Are we allowed to roam outside? Have you checked the food app to see if we can get a delivery order through it? These are the key questions we ask every day.”
“The last few days we couldn’t get to the end of our road. A neighbor put some big bottles of fresh water in the road yesterday, so people could come and get them. Someone else organized a group purchase of vegetables and eggs.”
“We’re all wondering if it’s really possible to test, identify and isolate those who carry Covid among the nearly 25 million people in a matter of days, and then open the country again. We’re preparing for weeks of that.”
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Before Monday’s shutdown, more than 20,000 financial service employees were called to their offices in the Lujiazui Financial District and ordered to spend the rest of the shutdown period there, in a bid to keep business operations running smoothly, according to officials.
Many companies have prepared sleeping bags and basic supplies for overnighting. “The stock exchange will not stop opening its doors just because of the virus,” one of the workers told the Global Times.
Others were forced to take shelter in unusual places.
One woman’s account went viral when it was announced that the compound she was living in would be closed on 11 March while she was at the gym. For four days, she was among dozens of people who had to quarantine in the fitness center, sleep on yoga mats and quilts provided by staff and eat food delivered to the gym.
The woman told The Paper that she spent the entire time working out and left the gym 1.5kg lighter. Her experience was repeated with a widely reported case earlier this month, in which a woman in the Zhengzhou district had to quarantine for several days in a restaurant.
But the restrictions also made some nervous.
Videos that circulated widely this week showed a rare public protest in a Shanghai apartment complex. Residents complained of a lack of food supplies after being stuck in their homes for about a month.
Some have also turned to social media platform Weibo for help because they have not been able to get medicine or treatment due to the lockdown.
People diagnosed with Covid were sent to live in warehouses and showrooms that were converted into mass quarantine centers, even if they did not show symptoms, and some complained about the lack of basic living conditions. One journalist who is being quarantined at the World Expo Center said they only had portable toilets and no shower facilities.
Shanghai officials said they are planning a series of relief measures for businesses, assuring residents that they will attend to their medical needs, and also demanded understanding.
On Wednesday morning, they issued a statement detailing the testing procedures and ending with: “Finally, we thank everyone once again for your understanding, support and cooperation!”