Chaos at Shanghai Ikea After Store Attempted To Lock Down Over COVID Threat

Videos circulating on social media Sunday show the moment chaos ensued at an Ikea store in Shanghai, China, after authorities ordered it to shut down over a COVID-19 scare.

Shoppers rushed for the exits as health authorities attempted to lock down the building after learning that someone who had been in contact with a COVID-19 patient had visited.

In one video, an announcement can be heard inside the store saying authorities asked for an immediate shutdown and to stop people from entering or exiting.

Panic ensued as security guards and health workers were filmed blocking entrances and exits to the store in Shanghai's Xuhui district. Some store visitors pushed the guards standing in front of the doors until they broke free, and fled.

Health authorities were cited by Bloomberg as saying "temporary control measures" were imposed at the Ikea store after they learned that a contact of a six-year-old boy, who was infected with COVID-19 but was asymptomatic, had visited earlier. The officials didn't elaborate on when the close contact had been in the store, or for how long.

The news outlet reported that one visitor who shared her experience on Douyin, China's version of TikTok, said those who weren't able to leave the store were forced to remain inside from 8 p.m. until just after midnight. They were then reportedly relocated to quarantine hotels.

People at a Shanghai Ikea branch
People at a branch of Ikea on June 3, 2022 in Shanghai, China. On Sunday, Shanghai locked down an Ikea store amid a COVID-19 scare. Hugo Hu/Getty Images

Zhao Dandan, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Commission, told reporters during a press briefing on Sunday that all those who were at Ikea during the incident have been ordered to quarantine for two days, followed by health surveillance for five days.

The store in the Xuhui district is now temporarily closed due to COVID-19 at the request of health authorities, an Ikea spokesperson told Bloomberg.

An Ikea spokesperson told Newsweek that the store was locked down "in response to the epidemic prevention guidelines from the authorities."

"IKEA Shanghai Xuhui was temporarily closed on August 14 and 15 and will reopen on August 16," the spokesperson said. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

It comes after Shanghai ended two months of draconian COVID-19 lockdown measures on June 1. Shanghai's 25 million residents were largely confined to their homes during the period, in which health authorities pushed a zero-COVID policy that aimed to eliminate every infection chain, measures described by critics as unsustainable as much of the world has moved toward living with the virus.

The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission announced Sunday that Shanghai is set to reopen all schools including kindergartens, primary and middle schools, on September 1, but all teachers and students must take daily nucleic acid tests for COVID-19. Schools have been shuttered in China's financial hub since mid-March.

Update 8/15/22 11:20 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from an Ikea spokesperson.