Blog: What is Life Like in Post-Lockdown?

Article By : Junko Yoshida

Our China and Taiwan colleagues live in big cities where they have already “flattened the curve” of Covid-19 since mid-February. They are, in fact, living in the future — which could be “our future” in a few months — if we get lucky...

Countries around the world are implementing lockdown measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. More than a third of the planet’s population is now under orders to stay at home

Being cooped up at home is beginning to test our patience. Three weeks, with no end in sight, feels like an eternity.

We try not to count days, but we can’t help thinking when, how, or even if the nation can flip a switch and revert to normal. Is there even a switch?

We’re wearying of Zoom, Facetime and Skype. We picture the day when we can see, touch and embrace our friends, families, neighbors and colleagues again. In the darkest moments, though, we do wonder if we’ll ever be able to resume shaking hands and hugging.

EE Times decided to peek into the future, by getting in touch with our colleagues in Asia. Many live in big cities in China and Taiwan that have already “flattened the curve” of Covid-19 since mid-February.

They are living in the future — it could be our future in a few months — if we get lucky. We asked our Asia team to take photos of what they saw in the week of April 6 in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei.

Before sharing those images, a bit of background.

First, most of our colleagues have been back in the office since February 17. So, what you are about to see is their life in Week 8 after the lifting of “stay-at-home.”

We should also note one exception. One of our colleagues spent China’s spring festival in Hubei and ended up stuck there for 62 days; she got home only recently. You can follow her journey home here. In Hubei, the travel ban didn’t end until late March. Domestic passenger flights at Wuhan only resumed at midnight April 8.

Second, we should be all aware that the Chinese endured a much stricter lockdown, nothing like what we are experiencing today in the other countries. For example, one of our colleagues said she had never — not even once — stepped outside her home during the lockdown in Shenzhen.

Cities such as Wenzhou, Zhejiang, reportedly implemented a seven-day lockdown during which only one person per household was allowed to exit once every other day. Most highway exits were blocked.

In that context, China’s initial “post-lockdown” euphoria was huge. Every facet of life, from just getting out of the house to reuniting with colleagues in the office and seeing traffic revive on the highway became cause for celebration, triggering a wave of picture-sharing on social media.

The images we’ve compiled in the following pages trace a gradual process that covers the past two months. This is a profile of the “new normal” in China.

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Metro staff worker, People Square metro station (Photo: Illumi Huang)

Yes, subways are running. Fewer passengers, but the number is growing. Gyms, movie theaters? Forget about it. Still closed. Starbucks and McDonald’s, yay, they’re open!

Two months after the lockdown ended, schools remain closed and kids are still home-schooled.

Apple stores, reopened, already have many customers. Evidently, Chinese consumers didn’t exactly give up on their iPhone touch-screens.

Tourism is clearly down. The Bund in Shanghai remains a popular tourist magnet, but with far fewer people.

The two-meter physical distance rule is eroding in big cities. One of our editors in Taipei reports that the suggested distance now is 1.5 meters indoors and a meter outdoors (roughly 6.5 feet, 5 feet, and 3.5 feet respectively). You can see passengers in the subway trying to distance, but at rush hour all bets are off.

Meanwhile, masks are ubiquitous. It’s hard to spot a soul without a mask outdoors in Asian cities these days.

One point that’s essential about post-lockdown China: This is a nation determined to continue to “test, trace and track” Covid-19.

Eight weeks after the lockdown, body temperature is still measured every time an employee arrives at the office. Consumers in shopping malls are subject to similar treatment. The same QR code is plastered on almost all public transportation. To track their movements and health status, all passengers are asked to scan the code with a Wechat/Alipay app and submit their smartphone and ID card numbers.

Shanghai gets back to work

04/04/2020, Shanghai. A building worker approaching construction equipment. (Photo: Illumi Huang)

Subways

Sparse seating is required, if possible
04/01/2020, 07:10 am, Beijing Subway BaTong Line. Due to the coronavirus, the Beijing Subway controlled the number of passengers, and the passengers also kept sufficient distance. At the same time, many citizens choose to drive to work.

(Photo: Lefeng Shao)

04/08/2020 Taipei. In the cabin of Metro Taipei, passengers try to keep distancing as much possible, but only if you are lucky enough to be able to avoid the rush hours while commuting.

(Photo: Judith Cheng)

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Passengers are going down into the metro station. Note, everyone is wearing a mask.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Passengers on the subway. The photo was taken on a holiday in China known as Tomb-Sweeping Day.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Gym? Forgettaboutit!

04/02/2020, 09:50 am, a gym in Beijing. It still remains closed to prevent people from gathering.

(Photo: George Qiao)

What about Apple?

04/06/2020 Apple Store in Shanghai

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

It’s alive and well.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Maybe not so much social distancing inside the store?

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Testing, tracking and tracing

First, they will test your body temperature
02/24/2020, Shenzhen. People line up to take body temperature checks at SunHope E Metro in Shenzhen.

(Photo: Elaine Lin)

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Measuring body temperature at the entrance of the metro station, sometimes by infrared camera, sometimes by handheld infrared thermometer.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

04/06/2020, Shanghai. The entrance of Xintiandi, a shopping mall in Shanghai, with installed infrared camera for body temperature measurement.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Then, they will use QR code to track where you’ve been
04/06/2020, Shanghai. The QR code in the subway train. It’s used for tracking each passenger’s health condition.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Now almost all the public transport vehicles like bus/metro in Shanghai have a QR code attached. All the passengers have to scan that code with Wechat/Alipay app and submit their cell phone number and ID card number. With such information, each passenger’s movements and health condition will be tracked.

Got your Suishen Code?
04/06/2020, Shanghai. Before entering some shopping enter or office building in Shanghai, each person has to show a Suishen Code — which is for tracking their health condition — to the security staff.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Every person in Shanghai, even visitors, must register for a Suishen code that’s issued by the government through an app named Suishenban(随申办, Android/iOS supported). The registration form asks about contact with persons from Hubei, personal health (including body temperature), and if you self-quarantined for at least 14 days after entering Shanghai.

The code should be shown every time when you enters some office building and shopping mall. If the thermometer at the entrance of those places manifests that your body temperature’s higher than 38℃, that should be put on record. Your Suishen code could be changed to another states. (It seems that the Suishen code has three or more different states showing the health condition)

But the good news is that the epidemic situation in Shanghai is not so tense recently. The two QR codes mentioned above are not so useful now. Not all the shopping mall needs your Suishen code to confirm your health condition.

But as for us, editors, the office building where Shanghai office of Aspencore is in still checks our Suishen codes everyday.

Back to school yet?

Schools remain closed
04/05/2020, 09:30 am, a Primary school in Beijing.

Primary schools in Beijing require parents to get textbooks in batches according to the different grades, in order to prepare for online network teaching starting from April 13.

(Photo: Lefeng Shao)

04/07/2020, Shenzhen. This student is the 8-year-old son of EE Times analyst Echo Zhao. He started his winter vacation on January 17. Three months later, he is still technically on winter vacation, though he does some schoolwork through a remote app. He hopes to start his summer vacation July 13.

(Photo: Echo Zhao)

Few schools are opened now, said Zhao. “But we hope more schools will open this month. They will start with colleges, high schools, then primary schools.”

In Shenzhen, primary schools are scheduled to open after mid May.  But the policy varies among different city.  “If we got lucky, I hope my son will go to school before the end of May,” said Zhao.

Tourism is down

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Tourists visiting the Bund are still fewer than usual.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)
(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Where are the customers?

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, back in action

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Even a restaurant’s mascot puts on a medical mask.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

04/07/2020 Shenzhen. Thank God, McDonald’s back!

(Photo: Echo Zhao)

So is Starbucks!

(Photo: Echo Zhao)

Transparent divider put in place
04/10/2020, Taipei. A transparent divider is put in place on tables at a food court in Taipei so that customers facing one another can protect themselves.

(Photo: Susan Hong)

What about take-out?
04/07/2020, Shenzhen. Just outside Aspencore’s Shenzhen office, a take-out deliveryman is calling his customer. This is one big step in the recovery process — during the epidemic, all deliverymen were forbidden to enter the building and customers had to come our to take their food.

Inside vehicles

Protective gear in place
04/03/2020, Shenzhen. No kidding.  In the morning, I took a Didi Taxi. The driver fixed a plastic film between the front and rear seats to minimize contact between passengers and the driver. At the same time, drivers and passengers inside the car must wear masks, and vehicles need to be disinfected regularly.

(Photo: Momo Zhong)

04/03/2020, Shenzhen. This double-decker bus was full in the lower deck, but nearly half on the higher deck (shown below), with everyone wearing a mask. Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the bus was usually full at both decks.

(Photo: Franklin Zhao)

Media mob scene alive and well in Tapei

04/07/2020, Taipei, The photographers of news media wearing masks in a media briefing hosted by Ministry of Science and Technology. It’s really not easy to keep social distancing when we are on duty.

(Photo: Judith Cheng)

In a media briefing, journalists and interviewees are all “in the mask”. Although the online meeting is a new normal throughout the world, we still think, in Taipei, “seeing is believing,” and onsite press conferences are necessary.

(Photo: Judith Cheng)

Newly suggested physical distance?

04/07/2020, Taipei. Newly suggested social distance over here is 1.5 meters indoors, and 1 meter outdoors. Below, the wholesale market in Taipei draws lines on the floor in front of the cashier to remind their customers to keep social distancing from others.

(Photo: Judith Cheng)

Vigilance is the thing

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Many residential neighborhoods in Shanghai commonly hang an anti-epidemic banner. It reads: “Work together. Pull out all the stops. Fight against coronavirus. We’ll win — Chenhang property management company”

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

04/07/2020, Taipei. Wearing the mask while taking public transportation has become mandatory. Anyone violates the rule will be fined. Here is a billboard with the notice in the Metro Taipei

(Photo: Judith Cheng)

The crowd is back in Shanghai

04/06/2020, Shanghai. Nanjing Road pedestrian zone, one of the most bustling areas of Shanghai, is lively again.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

Ordinary happy moments return

Everyone appreciates the return of ordinary moments.

04/04/2020 Two boys hanging out together and catching the sunset on the Qingming festival holiday (Tomb Sweeping Day.)

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

04/06/2020, Shanghai. A young lady’s trying to pour out some rainbow candy with the help of M&M staff.

(Photo: Illumi Huang)

— Captions and photos were contributed by: Echo Zhao, Judith Cheng, Illumi Huang, Lefeng Shao, Franklin Zhao, Momo Zhong, Sudan Hong, Elaine Lin and George Qiao

Leave a comment