GT on the spot: Shanghai residents embrace and celebrate new start at midnight of June 1
Published: Jun 01, 2022 11:47 AM

After going through a difficult time in its fight against Omicron, Shanghai, the megacity with more than 25 million residents, is celebrating the lifting of lockdown restrictions in COVID-19 risk-free communities. These areas resumed transportation and allowed private vehicles to move freely again starting from  12 am on Wednesday, June 1, which is also International Children's Day, after a two-month lockdown.

All the memories of doubt, anxiety and fatigue were left behind at midnight. At different spots in the sleepless city, the Global Times saw people celebrating the  lifting of lockdown restrictions in their own ways. Some set off fireworks in their neighborhood, some danced, some rode motorcycles down the streets, some played musical instruments, some took a walk with their partners, some walked their pets outside, and some smoked in the open air. 

The Shanghai municipal government issued an open letter to all the 25 million residents in Shanghai early Wednesday, to thank all citizens for their "support and dedication." The government said that many citizens encountered difficulties and inconveniences in work and life due to the long lockdown.

 "We will make every effort to promote the full restoration of normal production and life order, and to recover the time and losses caused by the pandemic," the government said in the letter.

Photo: Wu Shiliu/GT

Photo: Wu Shiliu/GT


'Life is going back to normal'

"Seeing so many people on the street and hearing the city's heartbeat, I know life is going back to normal," a Shanghai resident said. 

In the Bund area, one of Shanghai's most famed touristic sites, a man was riding a motorcycle and shouting through a loudspeaker "Shanghai has lifted the lockdown!" using both Shanghai's dialect and Putonghua. When he said the words, a great cheer went up from the surrounding passers-by. Many of them also videoed the man to record and share the exciting moment.

Not far from this scene, many people were taking a walk on the Bund area's sightseeing platform. The Global Times saw a girl jumping for joy in front of the Bund skyline, while her friend was talking a picture of her. 

Other parts of the city were in a hustle and bustle. At the Xingfuli street in Changning district, a group of young men and women were dancing together around midnight. "I will go to work tomorrow, and I have to treat myself with a celebration tonight," one of the dancers told the Global Times. 

A resident surnamed Zhang didn't join the carnival with the crowd but has kept her window open all night as a way to celebrate the lifting up. "I don't want to close the window tonight. It feels like the air is free and fresh tonight," Zhang told the Global Times. "I'm kind of a conservative person. I won't immediately go out and celebrate, but I feel happy that I can get my life back and that I don't have to worry about buying stuff and commodities."

An illuminated sign reading

An illuminated sign reading "Unity is strength, Safeguard Shanghai together" is seen across an overpass along the Yan'an Road in Shanghai as the metropolis sees traffic jams again after a two-month standstill at midnight on June 1, 2022. Shanghai officially ended the lockdown on June 1 to return to normalcy from the shadow of the Omicron variant onslaught. Photo: Wu Chuanhua/GT

Just after midnight, an unexpected traffic congestion occurred in downtown Shanghai as people couldn't wait to go for a ride.

Barriers that separated the districts were removed, the tunnels connecting the Puxi and Pudong areas, which are separated by the Huangpu River and highways, have seen a coming back of traffic. A lot of police were on duty to maintain the order to embrace the first massive traffic flow of private cars that were allowed on the road for the first time in two months.

"It is the first and only time that people were not angry or anxious over a traffic jam in Shanghai," said Bonnie, a 30 year-old self-employed photographer who drove to the Bund the first time when her compound opened.

"There are a lot of cars on the road coming and going, many more than there would usually be. It feels so good to go where one wants to go and feel free," Bonnie told the Global Times.

In some suburban areas, which were quieter than downtown Shanghai, the Global Times also saw people celebrate in their own ways. In a neighborhood around Chunshen street in Minhang district, the Global Times saw cars drive out one after another when the clock stroke midnight. Some people set off fireworks on the street and had a "reunion" with their friends or partners. 

One resident, who was walking his dogs in the neighborhood, told the Global Times that he and his pets wanted to "breathe some fresh air outside." 

Hustle and bustle

Street-side vendors and small businesses are making a coming back, bringing the hustle and bustle back to the city.

At midnight a fruit store in Changning district had their lights turned on and the owner was managing the shelves and replenishing the inventory, preparing for a massive flow at the reopening on Wednesday.

A couple of young people were seen standing in line in front of a bubble tea shop in Jiading district, waiting for their drinks and ice-creams.

"I feel that I had to celebrate this moment with something sweet. It was my first cup of bubble tea in two months," a customer told the Global Times.

Some Shanghai residents enjoy a normal night on May 31 by going out to streets, shopping at convenience stores and even have a foot massage. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Some Shanghai residents enjoy a normal night on May 31 by going out to streets, shopping at convenience stores and even have a foot massage. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Some neighbors and friends were seen sitting down at sidewalk snack bars, having beers and barbecue, with nods and smiles to people passing by to share their moment of joy.

Bonnie said she is preparing to restart work at her photographing studio as the city has returned to normal.

"We have already received some bookings and inquiries from clients. It may take a little time, but we will gradually recover," she said.

The city has released 50 new measures to speed up economic recovery and revitalization, while other services are returning to normal. 

Many familiar names of shopping malls and restaurants in Shanghai also opened most of their shops on Wednesday. McDonald's told the Global Times on Wednesday that it has opened about 80 percent of its restaurants in Shanghai during the day. Metro supermarket's eight stores in Shanghai also entirely resumed business on Wednesday, with many stores' opening hours being extended to meet residents' buying demands.