China’s zero-Covid policy is keeping millions of Shanghai residents trapped indoors, and it also forces thousands of people in the financial hub to sleep on its streets.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, since Shanghai began the lockdown six weeks ago, thousands of people have become the city’s newly homeless citizens.
They are food-delivery workers. They have chosen to be locked out with a job instead of being locked in without income.
Many of them are migrant laborers, coming to China’s wealthiest city from rural areas and smaller cities. They often live hand-to-mouth while sharing an apartment with other workers.
For many others, their companies have shut down temporarily during the lockdown period. They join platforms like Ele.me and Meituan to deliver food around Shanghai on bikes or scooters.
The Shanghai government has granted a special lockdown exemption for food-delivery workers. But with the stigma of Covid risk, residential compounds have been barring them from returning to their apartments.
And the food-delivery workers have become the victims of the strict Covid-19 rules in Shanghai.
They have to live on the streets with simple tents or sleep under bridges with only a bed sheet or blanket.
A rider named Wang shared a story that he was going from being locked in his compound to being locked out.
Wang told the Wall Street Journal that he came to Shanghai in March to make more money in the prosperous city. On April 1, his residential compound was locked down, and refused to let him out for weeks. On April 24, he restarted food-delivery work to help him survive, and he began living under bridges.
Wang said their suffering is real but difficult to explain.
Another food-delivery worker described sharing a bridge with more than 30 people, and most of them ran deliveries like him.
The Shanghai government has recently revealed the number of delivery workers in the city. It said that it is stepping up measures to support about 20,000 delivery drivers in Shanghai. The local government seeks to provide them with mattresses, meals, and a place to charge their devices.
The homeless workers have also faced other difficulties. Due to large encampments, police officers have begun arriving in the middle of the night to disperse them in the past two weeks.
Delivery workers have recently been required to carry a digital pass, allowing them to be outside.