Health Officials Tried to Lock Everyone In an Ikea. Then, Chaos

Patrons bust out of Shanghai store after lockdown due to customer's close contact with COVID patient
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2022 8:00 AM CDT
Health Officials Tried to Lock Everyone In an Ikea. Then, Chaos
A public worker rides a bicycle in front of an Ikea on March 6, 2013, in Shanghai.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Usually when it's closing time at a store, patrons calmly make their final purchases and exit. The scene was a bit more chaotic over the weekend at an Ikea in Shanghai after health authorities tried to lock everyone inside following a coronavirus report tied to one of the customers. That report, per the BBC, was that the customer had been a close contact of an asymptomatic 6-year-old with COVID, and so health officials in the Xuhui district, in keeping with China's strict "zero-COVID" protocol, attempted to shut Ikea's doors on Saturday and keep everyone inside so they could be quarantined. But the customers weren't having it, with video posted to social media showing people screaming, shoving, and forcing the store's doors open to make their escape.

Zhao Dandan, an official with the city's health commission, said Sunday that the store was now under "closed loop" management, meaning anyone who'd been inside at the time of the lockdown had to quarantine for two days, then be monitored for symptoms for another five, per CNN. He didn't indicate when the close contact had been inside the store, which is set to be closed until Tuesday. As for those who didn't manage to bust out, they were kept inside the Ikea from 8pm until around midnight, then transported to quarantine hotels, one customer who was trapped inside told Bloomberg.

CNN explains that China has employed a color-based "health code" system on mobile devices that keeps tabs on people's movements in an effort to keep the virus under control: If you've got a green QR code on your phone, you can board public transit and visit venues. If it comes up red—meaning there's been contact with a COVID case—you're facing "almost certain confinement." Shanghai just emerged from a rigid two-month lockdown in May. Bloomberg notes that forced lockdowns like the one at Ikea have taken place all around China, and that citizens have "scaled fences, sprinted down the beach, and poured out of office towers" upon hearing they were about to be quarantined. (Read more Ikea stories.)

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