Reporter: Luo Ya
Interviewee: Li Ling (pseudonym)
While the coronavirus Covid-19 has been reported to have spread throughout China, many provinces insist there is zero case growth. According to the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, from Feb. 25 to March 2, only the one new case was reported. It was on the 26th. This phenomenon worries medical experts.
In a recent interview with a mid-level cadre of a large enterprise in Shanghai, we learned that the epidemic situation is still severe, and getting back to work is delayed.
Li Ling: It is terrifying to work in our company. There are people in protective suits like in the hospital. You have to go through each check point.
Check the temperature at the entrance, one by one, take the elevator separately.
You have to apply to return to work at the local district, then the company has to confirm the application to make sure you are okay. In the company there is a punch card system (health check). I have done this for the past 20 days. If you are alright, the Luwan District will approve the application.
Once you are under quarantine, you can’t punch the card. Basically, I can return to work if I remain healthy for 28 days. It will become easier to apply for other documents, including an application to return to work, and an entry-and-exit pass.
The general managers and above are the first to return to work. A week after, it will be people like us (the middle-level managers). People of the lower levels haven’t returned.
The company is very busy. The local government requires meetings everyday, gives you a hard time, and is very annoying.
To leave one city and go to another city, there’s a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Without a pass you are going nowhere, not even going out of your apartment complex.
You need a pass to get out. Without it, they won’t let you out.
(The company) only operates partially, it is impossible to resume work completely.
Companies related to the daily living needs are the ones that might re-open fully.
At present, the apartment complexes in Shanghai are closed. Residents can only go out when they buy food.
The pass permits entry-and-exit for one person per family every two days.
Two passes for every family. Only one person can go out every two days.
Grocery items are generally ordered online. Some people also go to the supermarket.
When the restriction was very tight at the beginning, we could only order online. Now delivery can’t be delivered into the compound. You have to pick it up at the compound gate.
Now there are passes for cars in Shanghai to allow certain people back to work.
Life is much more than anything now to Shanghai people. They won’t drive around if it’s not for work.
Our back to work has been delayed again and again. It was originally set that we would resume work in early February, but was delayed, as the company emailed us to not come to work the next week.
Our email was clear, back to work on Feb. 17. Many outsiders arrived on Feb. 10. The company felt that it would not work and asked them to wait 14 days before coming out.
They need to isolate themselves at their own apartments.
For example, when you drive back to Shanghai, the car will be affixed with a piece of red paper, which clearly states the date to Shanghai and the date the isolation is lifted. But if you come from a place like Wenzhou or Wuhan, well, sorry, you are on the compulsory quarantine for 14 days, or you are advised not to come back at all.
Compulsory quarantine is for people from the epidemic area, such as Hubei. Each district government in Shanghai has at least one place for centralized quarantine. For example, the East Palace, the former Hudong Workers’ Culture Palace, is for the Yangpu District.
Many people are restricted at that place. They can’t let them out.
The online taxi will disinfect the car whenever a passenger gets off. They are also afraid of problems. They are only driving people to the airport, not picking up people from the airport. Because what Shanghai fears the most is importing viruses, they don’t do airport business and train station business.
Fearing the spread of the virus, cautious companies and businesses adopt rules in their own daily operations. The communist government seems only to continue adding more annoyance than anything else in the fight against the deadly virus. Return to work becomes a mission impossible.