The Shanghai Disneyland theme park will reopen to visitors later this week, park management announced on Tuesday. The announcement came just hours before China unveiled the first softening of its strict border controls.
The Shanghai park was shuttered on March 21, 2022, as city authorities tried to contain the fast-spreading omicron variant of the COVID-19 disease. Tickets will go on sale Wednesday, ahead of a resumption of operations on Thursday.
Management said that the park will see a “careful ramp up of operations.” In the first stage of reopening it will resume operations with limited daily capacity and enhanced health and safety protocols.” These will include unspecified capacity limits.
Management also warned that some rides and experiences including Explorer Canoes, Selfie Spot with Mickey at the Gardens of Imagination and Marvel Universe will remain closed.
All guests, regardless of age, will be required to present a green Shanghai Health QR Code (“Suishenma”) and a negative Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) taken within 72 hours (from sampling time) prior to entering any area of Shanghai Disney Resort.
There will be temperature checks on arrival and guests will be required to wear their masks at all times.
Additionally, all guests visiting Shanghai Disneyland Hotel are required to present a green Telecommunication Data Based Travel Itinerary Card (Travel Itinerary Card) and complete the Health Declaration Form during check-in at the Front Desk and Magic Kingdom Lounge.
The Shanghai Disneyland Resort had allowed some shops and one of its hotels to reopen from June 15. Similarly, other theme parks in China including the Universal park outside Beijing had also been quicker to restart operations.
The hesitancy on the part of the theme park proper in Shanghai may have been a reflection on previous stop-start operations and on the far-reaching consequences of China’s strict anti-COVID policies. Just a single confirmed case among a park visitor could trigger the park’s temporary re-closure. In October last year, during a previous reopening phase, tens of thousands of visitors were locked inside the park following a visitor’s positive test.
Other commentators have suggested that Shanghai, China’s commercial capital, is still only slowly recovering from a draconian lockdown and testing regime that left many people hungry and angry.
China’s economy is also slowing down. And, although central government has vowed to achieve a 5.5% economic growth target this year, Chinese consumer sentiment has been hit by rising levels of unemployment and a dangerous property crisis.
Later on Tuesday, in reaction to what officials called “lessons learned,” China announced the first softening of its border controls in some two years. Instead of 14 days mandatory quarantine followed by further at-home testing and observation, inbound travelers will be subjected to a 7+3 regime, involving a week of quarantine followed by three further days of observation.
Shares of travels and tourism-related firms soared in reaction. But many commentators remained cautious that the policy would not be given national implementation or that it could be partially reversed if new disease clusters emerge.
“The European chamber recognizes that China cannot open its borders completely due to relatively low vaccination rates, particularly among those aged 60 and above,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “This, in conjunction with a slow introduction of mRNA vaccines, means that China may have to maintain a restricted immigration policy beyond the summer of 2023.”
Even that would be welcome compared with the prospect of five more years of Zero-COVID policies espoused over the weekend by one senior Chinese government figure. His remarks were rapidly deleted by state media.