BEIJING (AP) – Authorities in Shanghai pledged on Friday to ease antivirus controls on truck drivers that are hampering food supplies and commerce as they try to revive the local economy while millions of people are still confined to their homes.
A deputy mayor, Zhang Wei, pledged “every effort” to resolve issues that have sparked complaints about lack of access to food and fears that the shutdown, which has confined most of Shanghai’s 25 million people to their homes, could disrupt global trade.
As of Friday, the government reported 11 coronavirus deaths and 17,529 new cases in Shanghai. All but 1,931 of the new cases showed no symptoms. The Shanghai cases accounted for 95% of the 18,598 new cases in mainland China, of which 2,133 had symptoms.
Shanghai’s leaders are struggling to alleviate the impact of a “zero-COVID” strategy that shut most businesses from March 28.
Authorities have tried to increase food deliveries and the flow of goods to the world’s busiest port in Shanghai by creating electronic passes for truck drivers to cross city and provincial borders, Zhang told a news conference, according to media. state-owned.
Truckers have been thwarted by restrictions requiring regular virus testing and multiple checkpoints, which has led to long waits and reports that some haulage companies and drivers are avoiding Shanghai.
Under the new system, drivers can pass if they have a negative virus test within the last 48 hours, no fever, and a “green health code” on their smartphone that shows they have not been to areas with outbreaks, according to Wu Chungeng. , director of the Road Department at the Ministry of Transport.
“All localities must release them directly,” Wu said, according to reports.
Meanwhile, about 80,000 small businesses in state-owned buildings in Shanghai will receive six months of free rent, Bai Tinghui, director of the city’s commission for state assets, told a news conference with Zhang, according to state media.
The government made 65 billion yuan ($10 billion) in “support loans” to Shanghai businesses and doled out other financial aid, online newspaper The Paper reported, citing city officials.
Officials at the press conference said the port of Shanghai was operating normally. But the daily cargo volume of the equivalent of 100,000 containers, cited by reports, has dropped by almost 30% from the normal level of 140,000 containers.
Authorities began easing restrictions last week and allowed more than 10 million people to leave their homes. Millions more are still in areas where residents are banned from going outdoors.
Supermarkets and pharmacies are reopening. On Friday, some people were riding bikes and skateboarding.
Some people allowed to leave are prevented from leaving their neighborhoods. Others can move around the city, but many have nowhere else to go. Some factories and other businesses are reopening, but most offices, stores and businesses are closed.
AP researcher Yu Bing contributed.