Shanghai has outlined plans for a return to normalcy on June 1 and the conclusion of the agonizing COVID-19 shutdown, which has lasted for more than six weeks and resulted to a significant slowdown in China's economic activity.

Deputy Mayor Zong Ming announced on Monday that Shanghai's reopening would be conducted in stages, with movement restrictions generally remaining in place until May 21 to prevent a resurgence of illnesses, followed by a gradual easing.

"From June 1 through mid- to late-June, we will fully implement epidemic prevention and control, normalize management, and restore normal production and living in the city, as long as the possibility of a resurgence in infections is contained," she said.

The complete lockdown of Shanghai and severe restrictions on hundreds of millions of customers and workers in dozens of other cities have negatively impacted retail sales, industrial production, and employment, increasing to predictions that the economy may contract in the second quarter.

The harsh restrictions, which are increasingly out of sync with the rest of the globe, which has been relaxing COVID limits despite the development of illnesses, are also causing disruptions in global supply networks and international trade.

China's industrial output decreased by 2.9% in April compared to the same period last year, a steep decline from March's 5.0% gain, while retail sales decreased by 11.1% year-over-year after falling by 3.5% the previous month.

Economists said economic activity improved somewhat in May, and the government and central bank are anticipated to implement additional stimulative measures to speed things along.

Due to China's rigorous "Zero COVID-19" policy of eradicating all outbreaks at all costs, the rebound's strength is questionable.

"China's economy could have a more substantial recovery in the second half, barring a Shanghai-like lockdown in another large city," said Oxford chief China economist, Tommy Wu.

"The risks to the prognosis are skewed to the downside, as the efficacy of policy stimulus will depend heavily on the magnitude of future outbreaks and lockdowns."

Beijing's discovery of dozens of new cases nearly every day since April 22 demonstrates how difficult it is to combat the highly transmissible Omicron strain.

According to GPS data tracked by Chinese internet company Baidu, Beijing's road traffic levels dropped last week to levels comparable to Shanghai's. 

The capital has not imposed a citywide lockdown, but it has tightened restrictions to the extent that Beijing's road traffic levels are now comparable to Shanghai's.