EXPLAINER: How China is using metal barriers to fight COVID

Apr 29, 2022, 7:19 AM | Updated: 7:25 pm
Residents holding umbrellas line up in the rain along the barricaded fence for COVID tests outside ...

Residents holding umbrellas line up in the rain along the barricaded fence for COVID tests outside the locked-down apartment building on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Beijing. China employs a variety of metal barricades, metal sheeting and door locks to keep people inside their apartments, buildings or complexes during lockdowns. The barriers have been deployed in multiple cities across China as part of the fight against COVID-19. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Several districts in Shanghai put up metal barriers last weekend as part of the city’s battle against a COVID-19 outbreak, in a move that drew protests and anger from some residents.

Workers in white head-to-toe protective gear erected mesh wire fences and metal sheets to block off roads, residential communities and even the entrances of some apartment buildings. A majority of the city’s 25 million residents had already been prevented from leaving their homes during a month-long lockdown, though some neighborhoods have since opened up.

The barriers are deployed to ensure control over movement and often leave only a small entrance that can be easily guarded.

IS THE USE OF METAL FENCING OR BARRIERS NEW?

The barriers are new to Shanghai but have been deployed throughout the pandemic in other cities across China. For example, early in 2020, some neighborhood committees — the lowest rung of local government — erected metal sheets and fences in parts of Beijing to control access points to homes. Wuhan, where the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in December 2019, also erected metal barriers across the city.

How they have been deployed varies. Sometimes the government sets up fencing around entire neighborhood blocks, leaving just one or two entrances. In other cases, they build fences in front of individual residential complexes.

The fencing has been widely deployed in border regions as well, including in Suifenhe, a city in the northeast that borders Russia. The metal barriers there block off entire streets.

WHY DID PEOPLE PROTEST IN SHANGHAI?

Shanghai had not erected metal barriers on a wide scale during the past two years of the pandemic, priding itself on more targeted measures that did not rely on lockdowns. That changed in the latest outbreak, which is driven by the highly transmissible omicron BA.2 variant. Central authorities enforced a lockdown for the entire city that prevented people from putting even “one foot out the door,” according to a widely propagated slogan.

Many Shanghai residents were upset about barriers blocking the entrances to their apartment buildings and some angry citizens circulated videos online showing protests. In one video verified by the AP, residents leaving a building in Shanghai’s Xuhui district broke down a mesh fence barricade at the front entrance and went angrily looking for the security guard they believed to be responsible for putting it up.

Shanghai is using a tiered system in which neighborhoods are divided into three categories based on the risk of transmission. Those in the first category face the strictest COVID-19 controls and are the main target of the barriers.

However, some neighborhood officials in Shanghai put up barriers in areas that aren’t part of the strictest category. One resident called the police to protest the sealing off of roads near his apartment building, saying his residence wasn’t part of the first category. He and two other residents in his building complex tried to stop the workers from erecting the metal barriers, but they were stopped by a worker in the neighborhood committee. The police officer told the residents they had no right to leave the apartment, according to the man’s account, which he posted on WeChat.

“This deep, deep feeling of powerlessness. Who can tell me: Is there any hope for this place?” he wrote. He declined to be named.

WILL THEY BE TAKEN DOWN?

In some instances, residents have been successful in their protests.

At one apartment complex in Shanghai’s Putuo district, residents fiercely protested after the residential committee put a U-lock on the door to their building on April 16.

“It was very sudden, without any notice, and it wasn’t just the building. Every place was blocked off below. It blocked off any escape path,” said one Shanghai resident who asked to be identified only by her last name, Zhang. “If there was any accident or fire, everyone’s sure to die.”

Residents in the building called the police as well as the city’s hotline. The residential committee relented and put tape across the door instead, but warned residents that destruction of the tape would bring legal consequences, according to a notice the committee sent to residents that Zhang showed to the AP.

In Beijing, many barriers were removed after the city went without a major outbreak during the past two years. Now, however, residential complexes with positive cases are once again being barricaded.

Associated Press researcher Chen Si contributed to this report from Shanghai.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

British Prime Minister Liz Truss visits Berkeley Modular, in Northfleet, Kent, Britain, Friday, Sep...
Associated Press

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss defended her economic plan Thursday and said she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing. In her first public comments since her government’s announcement of billions in uncosted tax cuts roiled markets and drove the pound to record lows, Truss said Britain was facing […]
1 day ago
The Right Livelihood Awards are presented by Ole von Uexkull, CEO and member of the jury, during a ...
Associated Press

Ukrainian activist among winners of ‘Alternative Nobel’

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Right Livelihood Award — known as the “Alternative Nobel” — was awarded Thursday to community activists and organizations working on three continents, including a Ukrainian civil rights activist. Oleksandra Matviichuk and the Center for Civil Liberties that she heads were honored “for building sustainable democratic institutions in Ukraine and modeling a […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

4th leak reported on Nord Stream pipelines in Baltic Sea

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A fourth leak on the Nord Stream pipelines has been reported off southern Sweden, the Swedish news agency said Thursday. Sweden’s coast guards told news agency TT that they have a vessel on the site of the leak, off Sweden. All four detected leaks are in international waters, two near Sweden and […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Mariners and Rangers play to determine series winner

Texas Rangers (66-88, fourth in the AL West) vs. Seattle Mariners (84-70, second in the AL West) Seattle; Thursday, 9:40 p.m. EDT PITCHING PROBABLES: Rangers: Jon Gray (7-7, 3.56 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 126 strikeouts); Mariners: Marco Gonzales (10-15, 4.05 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 94 strikeouts) FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Mariners -123, Rangers +103; over/under is 7 runs […]
1 day ago
FILE - Nyabimana (first name unknown), 26, shows machete wounds at an International Committee of th...
Associated Press

Trial of elderly Rwanda genocide suspect opening at UN court

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A frail 87-year-old Rwandan accused of encouraging and bankrolling the country’s 1994 genocide goes on trial at a United Nations tribunal Thursday, nearly three decades after the 100-day massacre left 800,000 dead. Félicien Kabuga is one of the last fugitives charged over the genocide to face justice, and the start […]
1 day ago
FILE - Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala handles the ball during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Warriors-Wizards games in Japan to woo NBA fans, sponsors

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese basketball fans will get to see NBA stars up close when the reigning league-champion Golden State Warriors take on the Washington Wizards in two preseason games. Not surprisingly, Stephen Curry and Japanese-born Rui Hachimura will be the star attractions for each team. And as clearly as the logo of Japanese online […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
EXPLAINER: How China is using metal barriers to fight COVID