Shanghai restaurants are offering secret meals off and fake recruitment campaigns in an attempt to circumvent the city’s strict COVID-19 restrictions, RFA has learned.
City residents told RFA that despite the official lifting of a citywide lockdown on June 1the municipal authorities have not yet lifted the ban on eating in.
“They still don’t allow people to eat there,” said Yang, a resident of Huangpu district. “I can only eat secretly in the upstairs area as eating in is generally not allowed, take out only.”
“My brother did the same – a friend invited him to eat and they went up to an area of the restaurant that you couldn’t see,” he said.
Photos and videos uploaded to social media showed people sitting at restaurant tables filled with food, but eating the light from their cellphones, to avoid alerting law enforcement to their presence.
Other posts said some restaurants had asked diners to fill out application forms to work there, claiming them as employees, allowed to eat together in the restaurants.
Once their meal was over, the diners stepped down from the payroll, according to reports, likening the process to an underground party.
“A lot of restaurants have closed because they couldn’t survive. [lockdown]which has been going on for more than three months,” Yang said. “If you rent premises…it’s going to cost tens of thousands of yuan a month, so they couldn’t keep up.”
Shanghai’s 26 million residents are still required to take a COVID-19 test several times a week to be allowed to move around in public, residents said.
“If you need to go out, to leave your residential complex to see the doctor, go to the supermarket, take the bus, etc., you need a negative PCR test result from the last 48 hours,” said a resident. of Jing’an District. surnamed Dai told RFA.
Authorities in the southern city of Shenzhen have announced similar requirements for anyone using public transport in the city, including hiring taxis or carpooling.
Beijing-based news commentator Hua Po said the impact of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) zero COVID policy on the Chinese economy has been enormous.
“Beijing is doing mass PCR testing for all employees, and there’s a lot of money at stake,” Hua said. “The Beijing municipal government is in a very strong financial position, and it has that money to spend.”
“But the situation is very different in other places,” he said. “Some local governments are very poor and residents are forced to pay for the tests themselves.”
Hua said politics is more about political performance and official rankings than public health.
“If officials fail to prevent or control COVID-19, they are severely punished, so party and government leaders implement these policies while trying to help local governments and meet double economic burden,” he said.
Abuse of the application of the health code
A resident of central Hubei province who gave only the surname Lu said PCR tests are still mandatory in the provincial capital, Wuhan.
“Things can’t go on like this… the economy is really bad and can’t take much more,” Lu told RFA. “Many businesses, logistics and supply chains cannot continue.”
“PCR testing so frequent is totally ridiculous…it would be better not to have any tests at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, a resident of central Henan province said he was suing the government for using the COVID-19 “health code” app to restrict their movements during protests by depositors unable to withdraw their money from the Agricultural Bank.
Xie Yanling, a resident of Dingzhuang village in Henan’s provincial capital, Zhengzhou, told Caixin.com that she was suing authorities for allegedly turning her traffic light-style health code into amber when she had submitted a negative PCR test result, the day she was due to attend a hearing regarding the demolition of her home.
“It’s inexplicable,” a person familiar with the matter told RFA. “The code was green.”
“I would like them to implement the relevant policies in a normal, legal and open way,” the person said.
Cai Fan, an associate professor of pension law at Wenzhou City University in Zhejiang, said health codes are used for “stability maintenance” purposes in China.
“This forced demolition involves the interests of the village committee and the local government,” Cai said. “If they turn your health code orange for the hearing, you won’t be able to get in.”
“Then, after a while, the government will level the land, put new buildings on it, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Cai said. “It will be a done deal.”
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.