Panicked shoppers rushed for the exits at an Ikea branch in Shanghai on Saturday after city health authorities ordered the store to lock down after a close contact of a Covid-19 case was traced to the location.
Multiple videos on social media showed customers yelling and pushing each other in an attempt to escape the building before the doors closed.
In a press briefing Sunday, Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Commission, said the “store and affected area” would be under “closed loop” management for two days. People inside the loop must undergo two days of quarantine at a government facility and five days of health surveillance.
On Monday, city health authorities reported six locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in Shanghai, of which five were asymptomatic.
The Ikea store in Shanghai’s Xuhui district was temporarily closed on Sunday and Monday in response to “epidemic prevention guidelines” from the authorities and will reopen Tuesday, Ikea’s China communications team told CNN.
Shanghai, China’s financial capital and home to 25 million people, was locked down for two months earlier this year, leading to widespread public anger as residents reported difficulties in ordering daily essentials including food and medicine.
The lockdown was imposed under China’s rigid zero-Covid policy, which relies on mass testing, extensive quarantines and even confinement of entire cities to stamp out any resurgence of the virus.
Relying on mobile technology and big data, the Chinese government uses a color-based “health code” system to control people’s movements and curb the spread of the virus.
People in many Chinese cities must present a green health QR code to ride public transport and enter venues including shopping malls, gyms and restaurants. The system logs their whereabouts and whether they have been in contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case – those whose health codes turn red face almost certain confinement to quarantine facilities.
Snap lockdowns have become common in the country, with the public growing increasingly frustrated with the stringent rules as the economy struggles to adapt to the disruption.
Last week, more than 80,000 tourists were stranded in the popular resort island of Hainan after authorities announced lockdown measures to stem an outbreak of the virus.