Shanghai announced a further easing of anti-Covid restrictions on Tuesday, a further step towards fully lifting the lockdown that began two months ago.

China’s economic capital has been confined in stages since late March to deal with a countrywide outbreak, the worst since the pandemic began in late 2019.

Unlike many countries, China continues to apply a “Covid Zero” strategy, which involves quarantines and lockdowns as soon as new cases appear.

After easing several restrictions in recent weeks, the city council said on Tuesday that residents in areas considered low risk will be able to move freely around the city from Wednesday.

This important step towards ending the lockdown will apply to some 22 million people, Zong Ming, one of Shanghai’s deputy mayors, told reporters.

Starting at midnight on Wednesday (4:00 p.m. GMT on Tuesday), “the city will enter the third phase [of deconfinement], with a complete but gradual return to normality,” he said.

The lockdown of China’s most populous city has weakened the economy, hurt production, limited consumption and severely disrupted supply chains.

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