So as of June 1st, 2022, Shanghai has ended the city-wide lockdown, and we are once again “free.” With some qualification, of course. Free to go outside, wearing a mask, but not free to enter any public building or use public transportation unless you have NAT (nucleic acid test) results from the past 72 hours. And since it typically takes close to 24 hours to get the results, yeah… we’ve gotta do a lot of testing. For the entire month of June, I’m hearing. Fortunately the swabbing is universally fairly gentle now, in the back of the throat rather than way up in your nasal cavity.
June 1st, the first day out, was pretty ridiculous in that almost no stores were open, and everyone seemed to have gone out just to find a public testing spot and then line up for hours to get a test done. Those free public tests were only available for limited hours (1:30 to 4pm was the afternoon slot), and the lines were worse than Disney World.
I waited until almost 3:45pm on Wednesday, June 1st to get mine done in a public testing center near my home, trusting that the results would be speedy. The results were not speedy. In fact, they never came out at all! I almost wasn’t allowed back into my own office building after lunch on that Thursday because I no longer had a valid “negative” result within that 72-hour window. Apparently this kind of thing is fairly common. My co-worker almost wasn’t able to take the subway to get home from work. His results came out just in time for him to go home an hour later.
Most Shanghai residents I talk to are resigned to just getting a test every day wherever is convenient. Some apartment complexes still have free tests for residents. After those first few days, waits in public testing spots are typically quite short already (under 5 minutes), and there really are free testing booths everywhere now. They’re clearly designed to be temporary.