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As the west is in lockdown, China is slowly getting back to business | Daniel Falush

After the coronavirus outbreak, life is returning to normal here. Other countries face a much longer wait

When China shut down its economy at the end of January to try to control the coronavirus outbreak, it was a bold and terrifying experiment. No one had tried anything similar. It was unclear whether the virus’s spread could be curbed, let alone halted. It was also possible that, as a respiratory virus with highly variable symptoms, coronavirus was simply too transmissible and too difficult to detect for these measures to work. But work they did and now China is the first nation to enter into the next phase of the pandemic – attempting to reinstate everyday life against the backdrop of coronavirus. But how much can economic life and daily freedom be restored without risking a “second wave” of the virus?

Since I returned six weeks ago to my home in Shanghai from a trip to Europe, the city has progressively come back to life. First, the number of people on the streets started to increase. Then restaurants began to reopen and, slowly, filled up. As of this past week, it is no longer compulsory to wear a mask when going shopping or on public transport, and it is no longer compulsory for restaurants and shops to take the temperatures of customers, as they had been doing previously.

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