Shanghai scraps some Covid testing rules in latest policy relaxation

China’s financial hub of Shanghai is to scrap some testing requirements from Monday, in the country’s latest relaxation of its zero-Covid policy after nationwide protests.

Several cities have rolled back some restrictions after public resentment at the harsh and prolonged lockdown reached a boiling point last weekend, when spontaneous protests broke out. Such unrest had not been seen for decades.

Shanghai residents will no longer need a 48-hour negative test result to use public transport or enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions, authorities said in a WeChat post on Sunday.

The city of more than 23 million was sealed off for months this year, weighing heavily on domestic economic activity.

Other Chinese cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Chengdu, cancelled the testing requirement for public transport on Saturday. That day, Beijing’s authorities also abandoned real-name registration that had been required to buy cold and fever medicine.

Two people gesticulating, both wearing masks
A police officer confronts a anti-lockdown protester in Shanghai last week. Photograph: AP

Last month Chinese health authorities released a list of measures designed to “optimise” zero-Covid and minimise its socio-economic impact, but local enforcement has varied widely.

The north-eastern city of Jinzhou said on Thursday it would continue to impose lockdowns because “it would be a shame to not achieve zero-Covid when we are able to”, before backtracking the next day after public outcry.

Officials in the eastern city of Jinan said on Sunday that people would still need to scan a health code and have a recent negative test result to use public lavatories.

Protests have erupted over the past week in residential compounds in cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou over the strict rules.