SHANGHAI: A few malls and residential complexes in Shanghai have started asking visitors to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, with one shopping centre's temporary decision to bar entry sparking a backlash on social media.
A video showing a local resident arguing with security guards about the legitimacy of barring unvaccinated people at the entrance of the Pacific Life Plaza in Shanghai has been shared tens of hundreds of times on Weibo.
Several vendors told Reuters that the mall was blocking unvaccinated customers at the entrance, though people could still sneak in from the exit. The mall operator could not be immediately reached for comment.
"This is too much, as this is like compulsory vaccination in disguise," one person wrote on the popular microblog.
China was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic last year but has since largely contained its spread, though there are still occasional flare-ups. Inoculation is voluntary in China, with officials explicitly told not to enforce compulsory jabs.
Shanghai last reported a community infection on Feb 4.
"Isn't vaccination voluntary, on a recommendation basis, and something that is only encouraged? Where did the plaza get the right to bar people from entry?" another person said on Weibo.
A Reuters reporter visited the mall late on Monday and saw the mall is no longer barring people based on their vaccination status.
Vendors at another shopping centre in Shanghai said the Sheshan Baolehui mall is asking visitors to show vaccination credentials, but not blocking unvaccinated people.
China aims to vaccinate 40 per cent of its 1.4 billion people by the end of June. But its success in containing the spread of the virus and vaccine shortage in some areas could still slow the effort.
Meanwhile, visitors at high-rise residential complex Xiandai Xingzhoucheng in northeastern Shanghai are required to show proof of vaccination on their mobile phones, according to a notice seen by Reuters.
Those not vaccinated will need to be registered, the notice said.
"(Residents) who have been vaccinated would not need to register, enjoying a bit of convenience," said a staff member at the local residential committee for the Xingtai neighbourhood, where the Xiandai Xingzhoucheng complex is located.
The pace of vaccination in China has accelerated to around 20 million doses administered each day on average in the past week, compared with a few million in April.
As of Jun 6, China had administered 777.88 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
By the end of the year, China is expected to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of "target groups", Zeng Yixin, deputy director of China's National Health Commission, told the official Xinhua news agency, without giving details.
The National Health Commission and Shanghai government did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.