Guillermo Benavides Monk
Beijing, March 2. From street food stalls to makeshift winter shelters, the infrastructure in which China’s tough “zero covid” policy materialized is undergoing a facelift these days that aims to prevent these places that cost millions from end up in the scrapyard.
China has lived for three long years and until last January one of the most rigid anti-pandemic policies in the world, supported by infrastructure dedicated to containment centers, field hospitals and thousands of PCR test booths which disappeared almost overnight.
PCRs were no longer required to enter public spaces, shopping malls or restaurants and the more than 30,000 stalls that were piling up in cities like Beijing, Shanghai (east) or Shenzhen (south) according to local media , suddenly disappeared.
FROM PCR CABINS TO WINTER SHELTERS
The pandemic disappeared from the collective imagination overnight, and the physical remains that could remind citizens of other times also had to evolve by improvising new uses.
All to avoid a heavy investment, which last year reached 30,000 million yuan (4,325 million dollars, 4,073 million euros) in the capital alone, according to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post , does not end up in the scrapyard.
In several subdivisions, the boxes have been adapted to change tenants. If previously they were occupied by the “dabai” responsible for carrying out the PCR, they are now occupied by the guards who shelter from the winter of the capital.
In addition, the spaces set up so that citizens sometimes queue for more than two hours to obtain a PCR, have become a space for leisure and conviviality in the face of the fear that these spaces aroused a few months ago.
A SECOND CHANCE
In the metropolis of Shanghai, figures put forward by local media reduced the number of cabins still operating for their original destination from 15,000 to just 1,000 a few days after January 8.
Although in March most of these vestiges of another era have been moved, some retain their original location transformed into small clinics which provide consultations and dispense medicines as an extension of community health centers, or simple rest points for workers.
In the eastern city of Suzhou, local authorities donated 30 such booths to different entrepreneurs to turn into food or produce stalls as part of a Lunar New Year market.
Meanwhile, in Hangzhou, also in the east, site of the next Asian Games in September, more than 170 cabins have been turned into tour desks for an event that was postponed the year before due to restrictions.
There is also the possibility of investing to give a second life to these stalls by buying back excess stock from producers on online sales platforms like Taobao for 100 yuan (14.4 dollars, 13.5 euros).
FROM CONTAINMENT TO OBSERVATION OF THE NEXT PANDEMIC
Although they weren’t as visible on Chinese streets as the RCP posts, which essentially rose to prominence in 2022, other infrastructure that irretrievably changed their mission were the vilified containment centers.
These places, generally a sum of unit blocks comparable to containers, have gone from receiving confirmed cases of covid or contacts close to them, to changing into observation centers or receiving a washing image in anticipation of new health crises.
Host to two Olympics in the past 15 years, Beijing has experience working with legacies, having already handled the future of some of these juggernauts from another era.
One of them is in the capital’s Chaoyang district, which is completing the rehabilitation of hundreds of colorful containers over an area of more than 15 hectares to accommodate “infected” from another possible future. disease yet to come.
Those in charge of the place assure that the experience of these patients will improve compared to those infected with covid who have been there, since they will now have “their own televisions in their room” in a world connected to the Internet.
“I think it’s good to keep those things if they’re useful and take them out if they’re not needed,” a pedestrian in Beijing told EFE as he gazed at one of the last surviving stalls on Chinese streets. EFE