SHANGHAI: After waiting two months in lockdown, I am finally home in Singapore, joining a dozen Shanghai-based Singaporean friends who have been on this same five-and-a-half-hour flight over the past few weeks.
However, I was not the typical lockdown evacuee who sought to temporarily escape and return when things improved.
I had booked the one-way ticket from Shanghai to Singapore since early February when my partner and I decided on our move to Ireland in August.
Summing up four years in China with all the life administrators that come with it is awkward enough. A city-wide lockdown complicates matters immensely.
Here is my account of what it takes for a foreign resident to get out of a closed city of 25 million people.
To leave my residential complex – with its front door locked and monitored 24/7 by security guards who haven’t been home for months – I have to apply for an exit permit from the residential committee , the local officials in charge.
At the end of April, I alerted the head of the residential committee, Ms. Chen, of my impending flight at the end of May.
To obtain an exit permit, one had to provide an electronic ticket for an outgoing flight, an airport transfer reservation, a green health code, a negative 48-hour PCR test, a negative 24-hour antigen test and a form with and trip details.
As the city was still locked when we left, some roads were blocked and many district border roads had checkpoints.
The exit permit is intended to ensure a smooth path to the airport, as it allows checkpoint guards to identify those who have a legitimate reason to be travelling.
Besides the exit permit and the PCR test, securing transport to the airport was another major concern.
With the suspension of public transport, including regular private rental cars, we could only rely on word of mouth to find drivers with the correct license to transport us from our home in Puxi in the western part of Shanghai to the other side of the river to Pudong. airport. Due to the fluidity of the situation, this could only be done closer to our departure date.