China has abandoned its zero-Covid policy, but reminders of it remain in the form of QR codes asking about your travel history and massive temporary hospitals.
Officials have pronounced the end of the recent wave, which was caused by the sudden reversal of limitations that had been in place for three years; since then, streets and shopping centres have been bustling once more.
However, how much money China put into what has become Xi Jinping’s signature policy is not something that has been made public. However, Beijing was expected to spend more than 350 billion yuan ($52bn; £43bn) on Covid testing, new medical facilities, monitoring equipment, and other anti-Covid measures in 2022, according to a Reuters estimate from last year.
Officials have begun dismantling or repurposing a lot of that infrastructure.
A temporary medical facility, apparently constructed from shipping containers, has been converted into a rental in Shandong province. It’s unclear who qualifies for the reduced apartments that are offered to “talented talents.”
Despite news reports from as recently as December, right before zero-Covid was shelved, no hospitals have been built with the 23 billion yuan that the local government of Shandong had planned to spend on temporary facilities.
Located in Jinan, the provincial capital, this 605-room building served as a quarantine facility. As one tenant who works for a neighbouring automaker put it to Jinan Daily, he “simply moved in with his bag,” and he found it “extremely convenient” that his office was just across the street.
In the eyes of the government, this is a victory for saving money. It has received widespread internet support from commenters who see it as a viable housing solution for transient employees.
Others, however, are sceptical about how cosy this “square hut” would be during the winter, especially considering it was constructed in less than a month.
Mockingly, one Weibo user said, “I propose the individual who came up with the idea go and live in the square cabin.” The comment, “This would undoubtedly scare the talents away,” was highly appreciated on Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok.
But that’s not all that’s left as a constant reminder of how awful life was when Covid was turned down to zero.
The country has been dotted with testing centres, both mobile and permanent. They were crucial to the rollout of zero-Covid since they were present in every community.
Some of these booths are now available on online marketplaces for secondary market transactions at prices ranging from 500 to 8,000 yuan. Many others remain on the roads despite being abandoned.
During the strictest period, lines formed often at these locations because testing was required on a daily basis in some areas. In order to utilise the bus or go grocery shopping, many people had to wait for a negative outcome.
Streets are often sectioned off with tape and barriers for testing booths, lines, and other Covid-related activities. Numerous of these can still be observed.