Shanghai is divided into three zones based on “antigen+nucleic acid” screening results: the closed control areas, currently involving a population of 2.3 million; the control areas, involving a population of 3.62 million; and the prevention areas, involving a population of 17.37 million, as the officials announced on May 9.
Huixianju was one of the prevention areas. The officials allowed “areas without positive cases for a stretch of two weeks to engage in ‘appropriate activity’ in their neighborhoods,” reported CGTN, the English outlet of the state media.
For weeks, Huixianju had zero confirmed COVID-19 cases, but residents continued to be confined to their homes.
On May 22, through WeChat posts, residents claimed they lifted the lockdown on their own by going outside for a walk.
New Slogan: Take A Walk Outside
Shanghai media reported that, while many communities in the prevention areas have reached the standard for lifting the lockdown, the local community committee limited the number of exit passes it issued to restrict the freedom of local residents.
Huixianju, a residential community developed by Hong Kong property developer Li Ka-shing’s group in the 1990s, drew public attention for the recent community protest that went viral online.
“Walk Out, Huixianju” became a buzzword on the evening of May 22 when residents connected with one another through WeChat; in a concerted action, they walked out of their homes and demanded that the community committee lift the lockdown.
An online video shows a woman speaking with a megaphone as the residents continued their demands on May 23.
“If you can’t provide [us] an exit pass, the Huixianju community—a prevention area, with no positive tests, [and has] passed the epidemic prevention standard—is ready to lift the lockdown on its own. We are free!” the woman said, while the residents cheered and applauded.
The Domino Effect
Since May 24, the surrounding communities have been negotiating with their community committees on when the lockdown will be lifted.
On May 25, Shanghai resident Ms. Gu told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times that the news of what happened in Huixianju was widely spread in Chinese social media; and it was really encouraging to the residents in other locked down areas.
She said that on May 24, residents of a nearby community, Zhongkai City, collectively took a walk outside their homes and chanted, “Respect the law, Give me my life.”
Another nearby community, Dingyuan, also demonstrated by walking outside on the evening of the 24th, as seen in an online video.
Mr. Wang, also a Shanghai resident, said that people have had enough of being in lockdown, and the staff of the community committee are also complaining about having to enforce the restrictions.
Mr. Wang said that his community started to allow residents to go out shopping twice a week, for four hours each time.
The Chinese edition of The Epoch Times called the community office of Huixianju on May 25 regarding the issue of exit passes.
The staff said that the exit passes have been issued, but denied that the lockdown has been lifted. “We issued temp passes for three hours of grocery shopping,” the staff said, “Shanghai has not lifted the lockdown.”
A local resident posted online, “As of 4:37 pm of May 25, I am right in front of Huixianju community. They are free to exit and enter.”
Gu Qinger and Luo Ya contributed to this report.