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How Did China’s Zero-COVID Policy End up as an Accidental Sleepover?

How Did China’s Zero-COVID Policy End up as an Accidental Sleepover?

Too busy to get your daily dose of RADII? We got you every Tuesday with a summary of all the freshest takes on China’s youth culture in the last week.

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What Would You Do if You Were Stuck in a Shanghai Mall for 17 Hours?

With less than one month until the Beijing 2022 Olympics, the Omicron variant has made enforcing China’s zero-Covid strategy more challenging than ever.

The cities of Xi’an, Anyang, and Yuzhou have all seen mass lockdowns in recent weeks, collectively impacting some 20 million residents. According to Worldometer, active cases in China numbered 3,494 on January 17, an increase of almost 2,000 from a month earlier.

But still, that’s surprisingly low for the world’s most populous nation, especially given the greater transmissibility of Omicron. To put this into context, active cases in the US doubled in the past month from 10,433,559 to 23,591,203.

Among the latest confirmed cases in China are two staff members at a milk tea shop across from Shanghai’s 1788 Square shopping mall in the bustling Jing’an district.

The boba shop closed once the cases were found on the day of January 13 and it has been listed as a medium-risk area. As a precaution, the 1788 mall was also closed for at least one day, a staff member at 1788 tells us by phone.

As a result, visitors and workers at 1788 found themselves living a teenage dream come true: a sleepover at the mall.

We had the opportunity to speak with Ethan, a Shanghai resident who was inside for the ordeal, to hear a firsthand account of China’s zero-Covid campaign in action — when the threat of transmission hits a contained environment.

On the brisk night of December 10, more than a dozen young customers hang out inside and outside of a coffee shop on Rua do Tarrafeiro in Macau. People come and go, but some hang around until 2 AM.

A group of regulars gather in the back corner of the shop, talking and laughing, eating cakes, playing mobile games, and even mixing their own caffeinated drinks. A few stay quiet and enjoy their beverages alone on stools, while others sit with friends on the bench outside.

All night, the two owners stand behind the bar, greeting and chatting with newcomers. Our conversation with the proprietors is interrupted almost every 10 minutes as more customers drop by.

Though the shop is on a quiet road with a lowkey sign, you can’t miss it at night thanks to the lively young crowd.

This is Oyasumi Coffee, the first coffee shop in Macau that only operates at night. Since opening its doors in June 2020, the place has become incredibly popular. At least two other new cafes in the city have since adopted the business model, and many others have extended their shop hours.

These shops represent a new trend in Macau called yefe (夜啡), where young people opt for a casual social chat after work with a cup of coffee instead of a boozy night out.

Find out why people in Macau are taking a break from alcohol and drinking coffee instead here.

  • She may not have made it onto China’s ski team, but 13-year-old Yin Hua's story is still as inspiring as ever. She hopes to one day represent China at the Winter Olympics. While her efforts have yet to be rewarded, this won’t stop her from staying focused on her dream.
  • Finally, a Beijing 2022 Olympics-inspired song we can get behind. The track is called “Embrace” and features Chinese artists Asr and Mico Liu Wei, as well as Iceland’s Doctor Victor and Carlo Facchini of Italy.

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