Japanese expats stuck due to Shanghai lockdown

Sayaka Nambu / The Yomiuri Shimbun
A PCR test station is seen on a street in the western part of Shanghai on Friday, which was placed under lockdown on the day.

SHANGHAI —The lockdown that began on Friday in the western part of Shanghai is affecting Japanese nationals trying to return to Japan.

Many expatriates had planned to fly home around the start of the new fiscal year on April 1, but in some cases it is proving difficult due to the lockdown, which was imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A 33-year-old man originally scheduled to return to Japan on Tuesday was concerned he might not get to the airport due to the restrictions, so he decided to leave before the new rules were enacted. The man, who lives in the western part of the city, took a shuttle bus to an airport in the eastern part of the city on Thursday and stayed at the airport for two nights. He returned to Japan on Saturday on a flight via Hong Kong.

A man in his 50s who works in Shanghai canceled his flight home on Sunday due to uncertainties about reaching the airport. Currently, he is staying in a hotel while trying to secure another ticket. However, he is finding it difficult, and said the earliest flight he can get is around June.

For days now, the Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai has been asking the Shanghai municipal authorities to secure transportation to the airport for Japanese nationals. According to the Shanghai municipality foreign affairs office, authorities have already instructed quarantine officers in each district to facilitate the transportation.

However, it is also necessary for expats to explain their individual circumstances to the district officers when leaving.

The lockdown in the eastern part of the city, which began March 28, was scheduled to be lifted Friday, but many districts where infections have been detected remain closed, and restrictions are in place to stop residents from leaving their homes.