chris pc Profile picture
May 26 35 tweets 11 min read
Shanghai Lockdown Stories:

As the city is being opened up and the first residents get to enjoy being outside again eviction day has come for delivery drivers who have been living in tents all over the city.

A Thread.
Over these last few weeks I've been spending time with a small group of these delivery drivers. Unable to return to their locked-down homes they were living in tents.

These could be found under bridges, on basketball courts, in parks and even on sidewalks.
I didn't share most of my footage and images online because whenever their presence became too widely known local police would close down these encampments.

Not in my backyard, China-style.
Today a citywide sweep saw every last tent torn down and the drivers once again chased away. They still can't go home and now they found cops on every corner, preventing them to set up a new temporary camp.

By 5pm my guys, tired and exhausted, were apoplectic.
A common misconception among newly-arriving international tourists used to be that Shanghai had no homeless people.

In reality living on the streets in Shanghai means being hassled to an extend that many just get on a subway far out of the central areas.
My group of delivery drivers spent all evening searching for a new spot to camp.

I sent them two nearby corners I had spotted. "No use. We already got evicted from there a week ago."

These are the same people who fed the city during the worst of the lockdown.
We admire firefighters and paramedics for going to work when we hunker down and close our blinds.

These drivers had fed the city during the hardest days of the previous two months. That they are being treated this harshly now in the name of avoiding blight seems deeply unfair.
My neighbors meanwhile, unaware of the drama playing out on the streets, were overjoyed at being permitted outside without needing gate passes.

A celebratory trip to the Bund was quickly agreed upon.
Having been efficiently cleared out, they never saw the tents.
Roads are still closed to most cars, making the current Shanghai astonishingly peaceful and quiet. Bridges crossing Suzhou Creek are also mostly closed to through-traffic, police having erected barriers at the center.
Upon finding out about the plight of the drivers my neighbors sprung into action. Locations that might be available were shared.

No use.

Whenever the drivers would show up at a new location police quickly followed, aided by the camera dragnet that spans the city.
As I drove around looking for spots I came across other drivers, also evicted. Nobody seemed to know where to go.
Every now and then I'd ask where they had gone.

"Just sitting on the street.
Haven't found a place yet."
Gradually the drivers made their way further North to the far ends of Yangpu District. A location was found.

Relief lasted one hour.
Batteries running low messages became shorter.
"We're driving further away. A day's journey.
We'll find a spot. Don't worry."

I suspected that was exaggeration.
But it'll be a while until I know where they ended up.
This is, of course, not a Chinese issue.
It's a truth revealed over and over in any large city: those with might push out those without.

What you have done for me yesterday all-too often doesn't matter much today.
There are more people on the streets now.

More of the barriers that used to block stores are cracked open a little bit, allowing deliveries and, if nobody is looking, a quick takeaway.
A few supermarkets are open but to get inside a 48h test is necessary. I had my latest this morning but the result hasn't been posted yet to the smartphone app.

Showing that I got tested three days ago won't grant me access, so a longing view from the street is all I got.
Most businesses are sealed with large stickers that vary from district to district. Monday is being held up as the day when everyone now seems to think the city will open.

I'll believe it when I see it.
Meanwhile this is how many streets look today.
Locked-down communities and huge barriers still exist everywhere.
Roadblocks like this one were tough to cross - every tenth street might have a police checkpoint through which one could cross with the right permit.

Now most checkpoints are gone and blocks like these are easily driven around.
A nearby quarantine hotel.

This is where busses would drop off positive cases from our compound. There seems to be no such traffic now.
A merchant is selling vegetables to residents of a compound still under lockdown.

Compounds are released from lockdown 14 days after the last positive test case. If people didn't show up for tests they weren't counted as negative.
I try to cross the Suzhou Creek.
Many bridges are blocked today just like this one.
A modern compound, still blocked off with temporary barricades. I usually see this type of access control at older compounds where residents could otherwise easily sneak out and break lockdown rules.
Finally I make it across the river and reach The Bund.
A few pedestrians and traffic police are all there is to see.
A side entrance to the Peace Hotel.

Usually this street is popular with wedding photographers, who each line up their clients for quick shots as other photographers are already beckoning them to relinquish the space.
Another blocked street in Xuhui District.
A man is peeking over a temporary wall.

I remember how it felt being stuck inside while others were already outside.

I don't have the heart to tell him he isn't missing much.
I spend a few minutes at a People's Square on-ramp to the Yan'an Elevated Road. At 9pm we'd usually be looking at bumper-to-bumper traffic.
A few subway lines have partially restarted.
Lines 10 and 13 at Xintiandi are not among them.
I finally spot two tents that have not been removed.
They might belong to volunteers or security guards.
Fuxing Road in the Former French Concession.
I wouldn't dare stand in the middle of the road here on other days.
A temporary seal blocking access to a bar.
Unable to get another response from the delivery drivers I end this thread and drive back home.

The lockdown has eased.

But that does not mean the city is back to its normal self just yet.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with chris pc

chris pc Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @chris__pc

May 25
Apparently one of the nearby shopping malls will open starting tomorrow.
Some folks made it to the Bund
It does not look like there were a lot of people.
Read 7 tweets
May 25
Shanghai Lockdown Stories:

I see more people on the streets today in Putuo and Minhang Districts. Friends from Xuhui and Jing'an also report being let out, often just for two or three hours.

Large areas are no longer marked closed (red) on Maps, Yangpu District an exception.
Perhaps this city that I love is slowly coming back to life, like a forest after a cold winter.

Driving through Minhang District I see a few pedestrians. Shops are still closed - a few supermarkets being the only exceptions. To get inside requires standing in long lines.
I ride alone with a few delivery riders. Many of the residential compounds we pass are still locked shut, temporary walls erected along sidewalks.
Read 20 tweets
May 12
The German Embassy in Beijing is conducting another Town Hall Zoom Call with Germans on the situation in Shanghai right now. A few highlights.
General Consul Pit Heltmann on the May 5 announcement on Zero-Covid staing: "A worse gutpunch for the German community in Shanghai could not have been imagined. (...) We have made our frustrations to the Shanghai health Authorities clear."
Pit Heltmann mentions that in the same meeting Danish colleagues have called the treatment worse than the initial disease.
Read 37 tweets
May 11
Shanghai Lockdown Stories:

Today I have a special Gate Pass, the official permit required to go out onto the streets.

Are supermarkets open?
Are doors covered with barriers?

Let's find out!
You might wonder how I obtained this Gate Pass.
Money, or lack thereof, is the answer.

I needed an ATM to get cash from abroad or I wouldn't be able to buy food and pay rent.

The lady from the neighborhood committee understood. "Many people have this issue now," she said.
A neighbor owns an event marketing agency.
Loveliest guy. Huge Ducati nerd.

He puts on a smile as he volunteers everyday but every now and then he slips up: "Things are bad. Real bad. All my clients have cancelled until July or August."

We're all going through the same thing.
Read 28 tweets
May 10
Shanghai Covid Stories:

Another day, another hopeful rumor.
Maybe we can get outside tomorrow? Or the day after? At least onto the lawns in our complex?

The official health app just downgraded us from red to orange.
Red, naturally, is the worst possible case. That means nobody is allowed outside of their apartments. Since we haven't had a case since May 2nd this has now been eased. Or it should be.

The neighborhood committee hasn't received any paperwork yet.
Meanwhile I'm searching the available group buys.
Someone tried to start a Dominos pizza order.
They didn't find enough people.

Not even in this dire situation was that cardboard sufficient.
Read 6 tweets
May 8
Shanghai Covid Stories: one of my neighbors has opened an outdoor hair salon in our compound.

Even though multiple buildings (including mine) are still restricted from going into the courtyard he's already booked solid.

Neighbors in the group chat are raving about him.
Apparently Tony has two more colleagues and together they do 36 haircuts. They charge RMB 30 per customer ($4.50). Short hair only and you have to bring your own apron. A trash bag is ok. Image
They are in a highly-visible space in our compound and do seek to confirm antigen tests results. I have a feeling the neighborhood committee has ok'ed their little business.
Read 18 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!