Shanghai Disneyland locked visitors in park on Covid case

VISITORS to Shanghai Disneyland were barred from leaving on Monday until tests cleared them of Covid-19 after an infected person was traced to the theme park, the second time people have been locked inside due to China’s zero-tolerance virus approach.

Patrons were told they could leave once they tested negative for the virus, the local government said in a statement after the facility was shut earlier in the day. Everyone was tested and the park is now empty, a spokesperson for Walt Disney Co told Bloomberg News early Tuesday China time. The shutdown came after a woman who visited Shanghai Disneyland recently tested positive for Covid, the government said separately.

Authorities also asked people who visited Disneyland since Oct 27 to get Covid tests for three consecutive days and to maintain social distancing. Posts on social media suggested the theme park started allowing people to leave around 10:30pm, in batches.

The situation mirrors that of a year ago, when Disney’s resort and parks in Shanghai were closed because of association with a Covid case. The some 34,000 visitors still inside were subjected to a mass testing exercise, with Covid workers in full PPE manning the theme park’s gates, before they could leave. While everyone was found negative at the time, the visitors were still asked to isolate at home for two days. The flagship theme park reopened in June after being closed for 101 days during the city’s brutal lockdown this spring.

The extreme reaction to just one Covid case is typical of China’s approach to the virus almost three years into the pandemic. While the rest of the world is living with Covid, Beijing still sees it as a major threat that needs to be quashed. Lockdowns, prolific testing and border restrictions are still deployed when outbreaks emerge, all hallmarks of a Covid Zero policy that is dragging on the economy.

China reported 2,675 new Covid infections on Sunday, the biggest nationwide surge since Aug 10. While small when compared globally, the uptick is leading to a raft of new restrictions from Wuhan, the original epicenter, to the world’s biggest iPhone factory in its industrial heartland.

While there are signs Covid Zero is weighing on workers and families, as well as business and the economy, President Xi Jinping gave no indication the country is considering a pathway out at his address to the Communist Party congress last month. – BLOOMBERG