The benefits and pitfalls of learning to live with coronavirus
Freedom from tight coronavirus restrictions has come with a price. Your health is now more in your own hands as the virus continues to lurk in the public.
Last week, Shanghai eased its pandemic-control measures to scrap venue code screening, PCR tests and health code checks in most places.
Shanghai Daily went out into the streets to find out how people are adjusting to the new environment of living with the virus.
It seems that while residents generally welcome the new policies, they do worry that they may become infected and pass the virus on to loved ones.
Small shops and restaurants probably are the happiest about the eased restrictions.
Iris Wang, who owns a nail salon on Wulumuqi Road N, said that customer foot traffic was up a bit last week, with expats about half of the clients.
Customers are no longer required to scan a venue code on the door, but Wang still asks her staff to adhere to strict pandemic-prevention measures.
"We need to be responsible for the sake of customers and staff," Wang said. "So we ask our staff to do PCR tests once every three days, and we sterilize the salon twice a day. We also have medicine on hand in case staff need it."
Commuters are also happy that they don't have to wait so long to have their venue codes scanned during rush hours.
"In the past, there was always a large crowd waiting for their venue code checks, and now time is saved, which is important to commuters," said a Metro rider surnamed Tian at Changshu Road Station. "I always believed that pandemic controls would be eased, but let's be honest, we need to respect science. So I think that I will work harder to build a stronger immune system."
Meanwhile, at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, a passenger surnamed Qiu, who just arrived from Hangzhou, said it takes some time getting used to all the changes.
"The other day, I was worried that I wouldn't be allowed to check in at a hotel because I hadn't done a PCR test for days, but the hotel asked only to see my ID and green code."
While many people said they feel their lives are finally started to get back to some semblance of normal, others admitted they feel a bit lost.
At Jing'an Kerry Center, all the 22 gateways have removed "digital sentries" that scan codes and take temperatures.
"We still provide supplies to customers who feel uncomfortable taking their own temperature, and we are equipped with some medicine and antigen test kits," said Huang Ning, deputy general manager of Kerry Properties Development Shanghai Co.
A commuter surnamed Wang, who works at Jing'an Kerry Center, said he and his colleagues have mixed feelings about the relaxed measures.
"I work in the banking industry," he said. "Although no one has thus far tested positive in my office, I have heard that infections in other banks forced healthy workers to do more shifts."
Wang said he had to take leave two days to care for his child after his school found some positive cases.
"I returned to the office today," he said, "but I will have to stay home again tomorrow. Such a life is a bit troublesome."
Meanwhile, Sarah Vetter from Canada said she has become more cautious ahead of an appointment with her dentist. Aside from walking her dog, she said she doesn't go out much and still does PCR tests regularly.
"I don't way to get COVID before the appointment with my dentist because I need to get a tooth fixed," she explained. "After that, I guess it doesn't matter so much. Life is slowly getting better."
The unvaccinated worry the most about the relaxation of regulations. One woman who has not been vaccinated because of health issues said that she worries whether she is mixing with anyone who has the virus whenever she goes out.
"I wish people would wear masks when they go out to protect themselves as well as vulnerable people like me," she said.
Pharmacies report dwindling stocks of some medicines.
At Huaqian Pharmacy near Huashan Hospital, shop assistants said that drugs to relieve coronavirus symptoms, such as painkillers and cold medications, are sold out. Antigen test kits also are unavailable.
"Customers will have to wait at least for another couple of days," said a shop assistant. "We heard that pharmaceutical plants are expediting their production."
At the moment, most hospitals in Shanghai still maintain a policy of limiting entry to those with a 48-hour negative PCR tests. The policy seems to put patients at ease.
"If no PCR test is needed to enter the hospital, medical workers might be faced with great pressure soon," said a patient surnamed Yang at Huashan Hospital. "At any rate, we've grown used to the old policies."