Shanghai reopened a portion of the world’s longest subway system on Sunday, May 22, after some lines had been halted for over two months, as the city prepares to remove its excruciating COVID-19 shutdown next week.
With most inhabitants barred from leaving their homes and restrictions increasing in sections of China’s most populated metropolis, commuters needed compelling reasons to go early on Sunday.
The lockdown in Shanghai and other cities has harmed spending, industrial output, and other areas of the Chinese economy in recent months, forcing officials to vow help.
Many who ventured out in the commercial hub wore blue protective gowns and face shields. Inside the carriages, passengers were seen keeping some empty seats between themselves. The crowds were small.
Xu Jihua, a migrant construction worker, arrived at a subway stop before it opened at 7 am, hoping to get to a rail station, then home to the eastern province of Anhui.
“Work stopped on March 16,” said Xu, adding he had not been able to earn his monthly 7,000-8,000 yuan ($1,000-$1,100) salary since then and would only return to Shanghai once he was sure he could find work.
“Is the lockdown really lifting or not? It’s not very clear.”
A woman who asked only to be identified by her surname Li said she needed to visit her father in a hospital 8 km (5 miles) from her final stop.
“I’m heading to the heart hospital, but I’m not sure if there will be any cars or transportation until I arrive at the railway station,” Li explained. “I think I’ll have to walk there.”
Four of the twenty lines have returned, as have 273 bus routes. Some closed in late March, others later, however irregular service with a restricted number of stops persisted.
The metropolis of 25 million people plans to remove its city-wide lockdown and resume normalcy on June 1. The majority of mobility restrictions will remain in effect this month.
According to the most recent figures, Shanghai’s 800-kilometer metro system averaged 7.7 million trips per day in 2020, with an annual passenger throughput of 2.8 billion.
Trains will operate every 20 minutes for a short time. Commuters must scan their body temperature at the entry and present negative PCR test results obtained within 48 hours.
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