I want to cry, says Wuhan shopper as malls reopen - RTHK
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I want to cry, says Wuhan shopper as malls reopen

2020-03-30 HKT 19:15
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  • A store employee waits outside for customers at a re-opened retail street in Wuhan. Photo: AP
    A store employee waits outside for customers at a re-opened retail street in Wuhan. Photo: AP
"I'm so excited, I want to cry," said a woman as she walked into a mall in Wuhan.

Shopkeepers in the city at the centre of the virus outbreak reopened on Monday after tens of millions of people were forced to stay home for two months.

The woman, who gave her name as Kat, said she was a teacher in the eastern city of Nanjing and was visiting her family in Wuhan when the government locked down the city in late January to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Some 70 percent to 80 percent of shops on the Chuhe Hanjie mall were open but many imposed limits on how many people could enter.

Shopkeepers set up dispensers for hand sanitiser and checked customers for signs of fever.

"After two months trapped at home, I want to jump," said Kat, jumping up and down excitedly. "I want to revenge shop."

That will be a welcome sentiment to officials who are under orders to revive manufacturing, retailing and other industries while also preventing a spike in infections as people return to work.

Travel controls on most of Hubei province were lifted on March 23. The final restrictions preventing people from leaving Wuhan are due to end April 8.

Car makers and other manufacturers in Wuhan have reopened but say they need to restore the flow of components before production returns to normal levels.

Some are waiting for employees who went to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holiday and were stranded when plane, train and bus services were all but cut off to Hubei province.

The owner of a candy shop on the Chuhe Hanjie mall said two of her four employees are back at work but she wasn't sure whether the others were willing to come back.

"We've only prepared a little stock," said the owner, Li Zhen. "Most people are still afraid of the virus."

Some parents were on the street with their children but traffic was light.

A poster at the entrance to the pedestrian mall asked customers to wear masks, cooperate with fever checks and show a code on a smartphone app that tracks a user's health status and travel.

A banner nearby said, "Wuhan We Are Coming Back. Thank You." (AP)