(p. A12) In the hours before the southern Chinese city of Chengdu entered a coronavirus lockdown, Matthew Chen visited four vegetable markets in an attempt to stock up on fresh food. But seemingly the entire city had the same idea, and by the time he got to each place, most of the shelves had been stripped bare, except for hot peppers and fruit, he said.
Mr. Chen, a white-collar worker in his 30s, managed to scavenge enough cherry tomatoes, meat and greens for about one day, and since then has been ordering grocery deliveries to tide him through the lockdown, which began on Friday. But he worries about whether that supply will remain stable, and how much longer he will have to rely on it.
“The longer a lockdown goes, the more problems emerge, and the harder it is to tolerate it,” he said, noting that the Chengdu government had not given a timeline for reopening.
. . .
The challenges in enforcing such extensive controls are daunting, perhaps more so now than at any other point in the pandemic. Nearly three years of on-and-off lockdowns have lashed the economy, sending unemployment soaring, especially among young people. The country is increasingly isolated, as the rest of the world largely abandons Covid restrictions. New subvariants are ever more transmissible. And the seemingly endless restrictions leave more ordinary Chinese people wearier by the day.
. . .
Chengdu officials themselves have already tested residents’ trust, after the authorities last week ordered a man detained for 15 days, accusing him of spreading false rumors on social media about a looming lockdown. Two days later, when the city did actually lock down, social media erupted with support for the man and anger at the government.
“Everyone is scared, scared that the situation will become like Shanghai,” said Mr. Chen, the office worker, who had traveled to Chengdu on business before becoming trapped there by the restrictions.
Still, he saw little alternative but to bear with the situation. “Personally, I’m extremely fed up with and not supportive of these policies. But there’s nothing I can do,” he said. “I can only wait.”
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(Note: the online version has the date Sept. 5, 2022, and has the title “As China Imposes More Covid Lockdowns, ‘Everyone Is Scared’.”)