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New Covid restrictions spark protests across China

Due to the recent spike of Covid cases in China, strict control measures have once again created hardships for businesses, including the drinks trade, and people are taking to the streets to protest.

As ‘zero-Covid’ protests break out in major Chinese cities, it’s clear the unrest reflects the growing anger of people who have suffered from challenging lockdown situations since the first outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

Over the course of nearly three years, the Chinese government has imposed harsh regimens of Covid tests and city-wide lockdowns that have curbed retail and F&B businesses, leading to many closures.

In Shanghai, residents are required to do frequent, often time-consuming Covid nucleic acid tests in order to gain access to premises such as restaurants, bars, department stores, supermarkets, wet markets, hair and beauty salons, and massage shops.

On 27 November, Shanghai officials announced the tightening of test requirements, amplifying COVID community cases yet again. A 48-hour negative nucleic acid test report will now be required to enter restaurants and commercial venues. However, people who have stayed in Shanghai for fewer than five days will still not be allowed to enter these public places under any testing circumstances.

The strict entry control has imposed a tough time on eateries and bars, not to mention the nightlife business, which is still struggling following bars in Shanghai undergoing a forced 2-month closure from April to May this year.

The difficult situation has also hindered some major industry trade shows in the country recently. ProWine Shanghai, which had been rescheduled to the end of November 2022,, has now announced it will be postponed to 8-10 November 2023 due to regulations on exhibitions’ epidemic prevention and control in Shanghai.

As stated in the official note from Messe Duesseldorf (Shanghai), the organiser of ProWine, it says “This is a tough and sensible decision after a comprehensive consideration of various factors. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the postponement. The ProWine Shanghai team is in close communication with relevant departments and all partners involved. We will strive to create the best and the most professional environment for exhibiting as well as visiting, to create a grand event and win wide acclaim from all participants.”

The organiser also mentioned that it is actively building more relevant trading platforms and schemes for the Chinese market in the meantime.

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