Shanghai residents breathed a sigh of relief with the announcement that the Covid-hit city of 26 million will emerge from an extended shutdown on Wednesday. That means shops and businesses will reopen, public transport will be up and running again, and most students will go back to school. Even international flights will gradually start to return. It also means people will be able to leave their homes after being confined to them for more than two months. But the big question is, what’s next? Will there be more lockdowns if the Chinese government insists on sticking to its zero-Covid policy? In Shanghai, the government is pinning its hopes on frequent mass testing as restrictions ease. Residents are required to have nucleic acid tests every 72 hours, and if someone tests positive then the area where they live will be sealed off. The authorities hope that this approach – targeted, smaller scale lockdowns instead of citywide restrictions – will reduce the impact of these measures. It’s the same strategy seen in Beijing , where a major outbreak was avoided through regular mass testing and locking down residential areas where cases were found. Beijing’s municipal government last week said it had contained the outbreak after weeks of stringent measures. The capital has not seen food shortages like those experienced by many in Shanghai. But people were still panic buying and anxious about being locked in their homes if the government’s omnipresent contact-tracing technology showed they had crossed paths with a Covid case. There have been complaints and public anger over the harsh curbs in Beijing, though not to the extent seen in Shanghai. That includes a rare protest last week, when students at Beijing Normal University forced the authorities to let them leave their closed campus and go home . Major social unrest is unlikely, but the recent lockdowns have seen a shift in how middle-class and educated Chinese view the government’s tough Covid-19 policy. Since he took power, President Xi Jinping has used an anti-corruption campaign to gain public support for the ruling Communist Party . But that support could wane as the zero-Covid strategy takes a serious toll on the lives of millions of people in China’s wealthiest big cities. The government is likely to stick to the policy until the party congress, which is five or six months away – but time is running short for it to find a way out.