Two megacities in China’s southern manufacturing heartland have imposed partial lockdowns, with tight entry restrictions to control the spread of a coronavirus as the country goes back to work.
But unlike in Wuhan and other Hubei cities at the centre of the outbreak, authorities in Guangzhou and Shenzhen are allowing people to leave the jurisdictions.
The epidemic control and prevention centre in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong and has a population of about 13 million people, announced on Friday that movement in and out of the city’s housing estates and villages would be limited to residents of those communities and their vehicles.
Anybody who has been to an outbreak hotspot in the past fortnight will have to stay at home while anybody who has been in close contact with a coronavirus patient will be quarantined.
Shenzhen police also said that all motorists would have to register their vehicles in advance to enter the city.
Similar measures were also announced on Friday in Guangzhou, the Guangdong provincial capital with roughly 15 million permanent residents. Under the new rules, people now need passes and to go through temperature checks to enter and leave residential compounds.
A day earlier, Tianjin, which neighbours Beijing and has more than 9,000 people in quarantine, became the first municipality in the country to restrict entry. Partial lockdowns are also in effect in major cities including Nanjing in Jiangsu province, Zhengzhou in Henan province, and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.
People coming from Shenzhen will be forced to be quarantined. You’d better not return
Authorities in Xian, Shaanxi province, are barring entry to people travelling from Guangzhou and Shenzhen, according to a document dated Tuesday.
“People coming from Shenzhen will be forced to be quarantined. You’d better not return,” a Xian official, who refused to be named, said.
With 1,075 confirmed cases by the end of Friday, Guangdong has overtaken Zhejiang as the province with the highest number of coronavirus cases outside Hubei.
The southern province reported 57 new confirmed cases on Friday, including 17 in Shenzhen and 14 in Guangzhou.
Sunday is the last day of the extended Lunar New Year holiday and the country is bracing as people head back from their hometowns to work.
Shao Yu, chief economist at Orient Securities in Shanghai, said the effects of lockdowns on megacities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen could be bigger because the service sector contributed more to the local economies.
“Now all offices and communities are closed and that means the production capacity of the service sector won’t be back to normal,” Shao said.
“If [the measures] last longer, such as to the end of February or even longer, the impact on the economy and the service industry will be more obvious.”
Analysts from Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies also warned that extreme preventive efforts by some local authorities could affect national strategic goals.
They said the country should avoid a one-size-fits-all approach and try to balance economic production and epidemic prevention.
“We must act immediately to resume work and production, on the premise of ensuring safety and health, we must seize, guarantee and stabilise our position in the global supply chain and ensure that our position in the global supply chain will not be changed,” the analysts wrote in a note published on Friday.
They also said that given the challenges faced by regional authorities, the country could consider delaying plans to meet the target of establishing a moderately well-off society, a goal President Xi Jinping set for 2020.
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