Fear and confusion in China after authorities urge families to stockpile daily necessities
By Cassie B. // Nov 11, 2021

China recently issued a warning to families to start storing food and other essentials for emergencies right as a small coronavirus outbreak there has prompted officials to tighten restrictions dramatically.


The COVID-19 policies in place in China are becoming stricter as the number of cases rise in the country despite targeted lockdowns. Although the Chinese commerce ministry did not say that COVID-19 outbreaks were the reason behind the call to store supplies, they did urge authorities in the areas being subjected to lockdowns to inform the public where they could get essentials quickly.

A notice that was posted on the Ministry of Commerce’s website asked local authorities to stabilize prices and instructed people “to store a certain number of daily necessities as needed to meet daily life and emergencies.”

There has been a lot of speculation about what prompted the call. Some worried it was related to rising tensions with Taiwan. It also comes as supply shortage fears rise and extreme weather hits the country. Some worried citizens pointed out that this was the first time such a notice had been issued.

The CCP-run newspaper The Economic Daily encouraged people not to panic about the ministry's advice, but they did note that many households in COVID-19 lockdown areas did not have adequate supplies of staples like rice and vegetables. Many people rushed out to supermarkets to stock up on rice and cooking oil. Authorities have said they would guarantee the supply of daily necessities such as meat and vegetables.

In China, food prices tend to be quite volatile. For example, heavy rains and floods have led to a surge in vegetable prices in recent weeks. On top of that, food prices tend to rise once winter sets in. The prices of spinach, cucumbers and broccoli have already doubled over those seen in early October, with the cost of spinach now exceeding the price of many cuts of pork. China said it plans to release reserves of vegetables at “an appropriate time” to counter the rising prices, although it is not known what vegetables the country has in reserves or how large its reserves are.

Extreme lockdowns in China

Although Beijing has only reported 31 new infections since the middle of October, authorities have nevertheless closed down entertainment venues and placed large residential areas in quarantine. More than 30,000 people who had been watching fireworks at Disneyland were sealed in the park and forced to undergo mass testing by healthcare workers wearing hazmat suits after a single person who had visited the park tested positive for the virus.

Many people feel that the measures there are extreme. One expat in Beijing said that he had been placed under quarantine in his home for 11 days, with authorities attaching a sensor to his door, after he briefly entered a hotel to ask the front desk for help after authorities learned that a person who tested positive for the virus had also visited the same hotel. He had only been inside for a few minutes. Other people have reported entire apartment blocks being quarantined simply because a close contact of an infected individual lived there.

In Beijing, meanwhile, officials have urged those who are traveling or on business trips not to return and have restricted departures. Employees of state-owned enterprises and civil servants are banned from traveling during outbreaks.

The strict rules in China have helped to keep coronavirus outbreaks under control and reduced the death toll, the country claims, but the restrictions are having a negative impact on the economy there.

Sources for this article include:




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