Videos circulating on Chinese social media show people said to be Foxconn workers climbing over fences and walking down a road laden with their belongings.
The scenes highlight growing public discontent with China’s “zero COVID” strategy, where the government seeks to contain outbreaks by implementing strict testing, isolation and lockdown measures where infections are found.
Outbreaks of the disease led to the fact that entire cities were closed. Amid the latest wave of infections, the Shanghai Disney Resort said Monday it would close indefinitely starting Monday “to adhere to the requirements of pandemic prevention and control.”
In an online message, the park apologized for the inconvenience and said it would provide refunds or exchanges to those affected by its closure.
The Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, Henan province, can accommodate up to 350,000 workers and is one of the largest factories in China that assembles products for Apple Inc., including the latest iPhone 14 devices.
Not all videos showing workers allegedly leaving the site can be verified. It is not yet clear whether the workers who were leaving the facility fled or were allowed to leave.
Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Volunteers from nearby villages provided food and drinks for Foxconn workers. One such volunteer, who asked to be identified only by his surname Zhang for confidentiality reasons, was put in charge of distributing supplies prepared by his village in Xinyang County. He said the people shown in the video he uploaded to the short video platform Douyin were Foxconn workers because they would have to walk down this road when they left the facility.
It was unclear how many people currently work at the Zhengzhou factory, how many have left and how many have been affected by the plant’s COVID-19 containment.
Earlier this week, media reported that the factory had implemented a “closed loop” system that largely restricts workers from moving between their residences and the factory.
Local media reports said Foxconn workers complained of poor food quality and a lack of medical care for those who tested positive amid fears that infections could spread. The company denied rumors that 20,000 people at the plant were infected with COVID-19.
Cities near Zhengzhou urged Foxconn workers to notify local authorities when they plan to return to their hometowns to prepare appropriate isolation measures.
Posts on the Zhengzhou government’s public WeChat account said Foxconn issued messages to factory workers on Sunday, promising to ensure the safety, legal rights and income of those who remained.
A day after videos of workers leaving the factory on foot circulated, Foxconn and several local governments arranged transportation for workers who decided to return home. It is unclear how much choice they were given in the matter.
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