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Shanghai to reopen shops after reporting no community cases

Workers inspect people's Covid certs outside a reopened supermarket in Shanghai, China. Picture: Reuters

Shanghai will reopen physical stores in phases from Monday after reporting no new Covid-19 cases outside of quarantine.

Shopping malls, department and convenience stores and supermarkets will resume operations in a gradual manner, Vice Mayor Chen Tong said in a briefing Sunday.

Drug stores and barber shops will also be allowed to reopen, while restaurants can offer takeaway beyond only online options previously, he said.

The city reported 1,203 local asymptomatic Covid infections and 166 local confirmed cases for Saturday, with no cases found outside quarantined areas, according to a statement from the local health authority.

Officials have said three consecutive days of zero community transmission is required before they can start to ease restrictions.

The financial hub has been placed under a lockdown for about six weeks as China sticks with its Covid Zero strategy that now seeks to eliminate the virus spread within communities.

But the prospect of lockdowns across major cities still looms large, with Beijing facing a growing list of Covid restrictions.

Once a clear success story, China's Covid strategy has become a liability.

The zero-tolerance approach that kept the virus out for much of the pandemic is struggling to contain the virus without more and more disruptive control measures in the face of more contagious variants.

The economy took a heavy hit in April as authorities deployed widespread lockdown measures to contain Covid, with manufacturing and services activity, as well as export growth all slowing sharply.

The central bank will set its medium-term lending facility rate on Monday, with some economists expecting a modest reduction.

That'll come ahead of retail sales, factory output, investment and employment data for April that's also set to illustrate the economic damage from the lockdowns.

Signs of re-opening will be a relief for Shanghai residents.

So far, 183 major supermarkets and 673 convenience stores in the city are open for in-person services, local commerce official Gu Jun said at the Sunday briefing.

Some 118,000 delivery workers are on a "white list" that allows them to work, he said.

Beijing recorded 41 local Covid cases for Saturday, dropping from 56 the day before. The city has ordered all public transport as well as car hailing services to be suspended in Fangshan district, where 12 infections were found Saturday, and residents were asked to work from home.

Officials have denied Beijing will be locked down amid growing concern the Chinese capital's response to a persistent outbreak is about to be intensified.

There were a total of 1,718 new local Covid cases in China for Saturday, according to the National Health Commission, down from 1,979 on Friday.