Shanghai achieved on Tuesday the long-awaited milestone of three consecutive days with no new COVID-19 cases outside quarantine zones but most residents will have to put up with confinement for a while longer before resuming more normal life.
For other cities in China that have been under lockdown, a third day with no new cases in the community usually means "zero COVID" status and the beginning of the lifting of restrictions.
The commercial hub of 25 million set out on Monday its clearest timetable yet for exiting a lockdown now in its seventh week, but the plan was met with scepticism by many residents who have seen isolation extended time and again.
Shanghai plans to resume outdoor activities in stages, with some convenience stores and pharmacies reopening this week, but with most restrictions on movement remaining in place until May 21, after which public transport and other services will resume gradually.
By June, the lockdown should be lifted, but residents will still be asked to get tested frequently.
More people were allowed out of their homes this week, with some joggers and dog walkers spotted. One man was seen fishing in the Shanghai river.
But tall fences remained around many residential compounds and there were almost no private cars on the streets with most people still confined to their homes.
It was not clear how many shops re-opened this week but in one positive sign, delivery apps showed more options for people to order from Tuesday.
A social media account ran by the Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper posted photographs on Monday evening that it said it showed breakfast joints, restaurants and hairdressers opening up.
A video posted by another state-backed media outlet announced the reopening of an Alibaba Freshippo grocery store, showing about 10 members of staff in hazmat suits making heart shapes with their hands, but only two people who looked like shoppers.
A sign on the shop's door said customers had to show a negative COVID test and a pass showing they are allowed out of home, among other requirements. Only 20 customers are allowed into the store at a time.
In all, Shanghai reported fewer than 1,000 new cases for May 16, all inside areas under the strictest controls. In relatively freer areas, the ones monitored to gauge progress in eradicating the outbreak, no new cases were found for a third day.