At mercy of zealous residential committees, Shanghai's locked-down vent frustration

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At mercy of zealous residential committees, Shanghai's locked-down vent frustration

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At mercy of zealous residential committees, Shanghai's locked-down vent frustration


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Last week, Elizabeth Liu and her husband were excited about the prospect of leaving their Shanghai residential compound for the first time in over a month. All but one building in the compound had just been reclassified as low risk after 14 days of no COVID-19 cases.

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"My husband put on the hazmat suit and went to pick up our groceries from the supermarket because our building was technically a precautionary zone," she said. "According to law, we should be able to go out."

But after he returned, the couple received a visit from a member of their compound's residential committee and two policemen who told them to stay home.

"Listen to the neighbourhood committee because they know best," Liu quoted one of the policemen as saying.

Known in Chinese as "juweihui", residential committees - comprised of volunteers who receive a daily stipend - have gone into overdrive during the pandemic, helping authorities conduct mass testing, delivering food to people in need and helping to enforce draconian lockdown measures.