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2022-03-18 07:39:03

SHANGHAI — Shanghai’s spring blossoms aren’t receiving the usual attention this year.

Many of the city’s parks and botanical gardens, where the city’s vibrant peach, plum, and magnolia blooms can usually be seen, have been shut due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Sports and entertainment venues have also been closed.

Hundreds of thousands of Shanghai residents — including over 100,000 university students — are temporarily locked down, too. Some of the city’s vibrant streets are nearly deserted, with malls and metros noticing a sharp drop in shoppers and commuters, respectively. 

But a lone dancer in the park, a solo diner at a restaurant, and couples finding a quiet space in the otherwise crowded Bund waterfront still encapsulate the city’s spirit, albeit in a different way.

Sixth Tone photographers wandered around the city of over 24 million people over the past few days to document springtime in the shadow of the COVID-19 surge.

Residents walk toward a COVID-19 testing site in Laoximen Subdistrict, Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Residents walk toward a COVID-19 testing site in Laoximen Subdistrict, Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A temporary COVID-19 testing site near the Confucius Temple in Shanghai (left); a man waits to get tested (right),  March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A temporary COVID-19 testing site near the Confucius Temple in Shanghai (left); a man waits to get tested (right), March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a testing set near the Confucius Temple, Shanghai, March 12, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a testing set near the Confucius Temple, Shanghai, March 12, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Shared bikes used as barriers at the entrance of a residential community in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Shared bikes used as barriers at the entrance of a residential community in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A man sits reading inside a locked down residential area in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A man sits reading inside a locked down residential area in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A woman inside a locked down area chats with security staff in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A woman inside a locked down area chats with security staff in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Two women walk home after finishing their COVID-19 test in Laoximen Subdistrict, Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Two women walk home after finishing their COVID-19 test in Laoximen Subdistrict, Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People visit the Bund area in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People visit the Bund area in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People enjoy the night view of Shanghai skyline from the Bund in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People enjoy the night view of Shanghai skyline from the Bund in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

An exterior view of Huating Hotel, one of the “medium-risk areas” locked down in Shanghai, March 14, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

An exterior view of Huating Hotel, one of the “medium-risk areas” locked down in Shanghai, March 14, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Volunteers from local colleges change shifts between two residential communities early in the morning in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Volunteers are stationed at locked down residential compounds for five to seven days, helping with epidemic control amid China’s largest COVID-19 outbreak since the first wave in 2020. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Volunteers from local colleges change shifts between two residential communities early in the morning in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Volunteers are stationed at locked down residential compounds for five to seven days, helping with epidemic control amid China’s largest COVID-19 outbreak since the first wave in 2020. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Medical workers rest in the early hours of the morning after an extended shift conducting COVID-19 tests in Xuhui District, Shanghai, March 10, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Medical workers rest in the early hours of the morning after an extended shift conducting COVID-19 tests in Xuhui District, Shanghai, March 10, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a testing site in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 12, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at a testing site in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 12, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Students carry their books and stationery after class at a primary school in Jing’an District, Shanghai, before authorities moved all classes online, March 11, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Students carry their books and stationery after class at a primary school in Jing’an District, Shanghai, before authorities moved all classes online, March 11, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

An aerial view of the almost empty Yan’an Road in Changning District, Shanghai, March 18, 2022. Shi Yangkun for Sixth Tone

An aerial view of the almost empty Yan’an Road in Changning District, Shanghai, March 18, 2022. Shi Yangkun for Sixth Tone

A view of an empty subway station in Shanghai, March 14, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A view of an empty subway station in Shanghai, March 14, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A view of a deserted café in Shanghai, March 14, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A view of a deserted café in Shanghai, March 14, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Left: A volunteer adjusts his protective clothing in Laoximen Subdistrict, Shanghai, March 15, 2022; Right: Volunteers play basketball after a long shift, March 13, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Left: A volunteer adjusts his protective clothing in Laoximen Subdistrict, Shanghai, March 15, 2022; Right: Volunteers play basketball after a long shift, March 13, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Real estate sales employees chat near a COVID-19 testing spot in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Real estate sales employees chat near a COVID-19 testing spot in Shanghai, March 15, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A snack vendor carries his goods home in Gucun Town, Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A snack vendor carries his goods home in Gucun Town, Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Left: Cherry blossoms in a locked down residential area in Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone; Right: A couple takes their pet dog for a walk outside the Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Ding Yining/Sixth Tone

Left: Cherry blossoms in a locked down residential area in Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone; Right: A couple takes their pet dog for a walk outside the Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Ding Yining/Sixth Tone

A couple watches a kite fly past them at Gucun Park, Shanghai, March 13, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

A couple watches a kite fly past them at Gucun Park, Shanghai, March 13, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Residents flex their moves in a dance routine at a square in Gucun Town, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Residents flex their moves in a dance routine at a square in Gucun Town, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Residents return home from work at dusk in Gucun Town, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Residents return home from work at dusk in Gucun Town, Shanghai, March 16, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Traffic lights at dusk in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 10, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Traffic lights at dusk in Baoshan District, Shanghai, March 10, 2022. Wu Huiyuan/Sixth Tone

Editors: Ding Yining, Bibek Bhandari, and Qi Ya.