Shanghai said on Sunday “unreasonable” curbs on businesses will be removed from June 1 as it looks to lift its COVID-19 lockdown, while Beijing reopened parts of its public transport as well as some malls and other venues as infections stabilised.
The Chinese commercial hub of 25 million people aims to essentially end from Wednesday a two-month lockdown that has severely damaged the economy and seen many residents lose income, struggle to source food and to cope with the isolation.
The painful coronavirus curbs in major Chinese cities run counter to trends seen in the rest of the world, which has largely tried to return to normal life even as infections spread.
Shanghai, China`s most populous city, will end many conditions for businesses to resume work from June 1. The city also launched measures to support its economy, including reducing some taxes on car purchases, accelerating issuance of local government bonds, and speeding up approvals of real estate projects.
Shanghai will ask banks to renew loans to small and medium firms worth a total of 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) this year.
“We will fully support and organise the resumption of work and production of enterprises in various industries and fields,” vice mayor Wu Qing told reporters, adding that “unreasonable” COVID restrictions on businesses would be lifted.
Wu did not give details of which restrictions would be cancelled.
Shanghai in April started publishing “white lists” of important manufacturers in the auto industry, life sciences, chemicals and semiconductors allowed to resume operations.
But many of the priority companies had suppliers who were unable to reopen and so they still faced logistical bottlenecks.
Many industry executives also complained about onerous COVID curbs, as they needed to find sleeping quarters for staff trying to isolate and to implement rigorous disinfection. Most businesses in the city are still shut.
All “white lists” would be abolished, Wu said.
Earlier on Sunday, city government spokeswoman Yin Xin said Shanghai would ease testing requirements from Wednesday for people who want to enter public areas, to encourage a return to work.
“The current epidemic situation in the city continues to stabilise and improve,” Yin said, adding Shanghai`s strategy was “pivoting towards normalised prevention and control”.
People entering public venues or taking public transport would need to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, up from 48 hours previously.
Bus services within the Pudong New Area, home to Shanghai`s largest airport and the main financial district, would fully resume by Monday, officials said.
Plaza 66, a mall in central Shanghai that hosts Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands, reopened on Sunday.
Authorities have been slowly relaxing curbs, with a focus on getting manufacturing going again.

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