The return to normal will be for later in Beijing: when economic activity had resumed well, a brutal rebound in COVID-19 hit bars, restaurants and gyms hard.
After finding an outbreak of infection at a wholesale market last week, the town hall confined residential areas, called on businesses to allow telework and urged residents not to leave town.
A symbol of the sudden restructuring underway in Beijing: schools closed on Wednesday and the two international airports canceled more than a thousand flights – 65% of the daily total – according to the specialized application Variflight.
The mayor announced Wednesday 31 new COVID-19 patients in the past 24 hours, a figure generally stable for the fourth consecutive day.
But after long weeks of closure after the explosion of the epidemic in early 2020, bars, restaurants and shops have to close again or impose restrictions on customers: taking temperatures, limiting the number of people at the table, registration, etc.
The Break Fitness gym in the hard-hit Beijing district of Fengtai closed on Friday to screen staff.
“There is nothing we can do about it,” boss Xiao Tianwei told AFP.
The situation is hitting hourly paid coaches like Zhang Tong, who works out at the Sculpture Fitness gym. He says he has won practically nothing for six months.
“Since the reopening, I have only worked for a few days,” he told AFP. “Without a private lesson, no income. So all of this has quite an impact on me. “
Elsewhere in the city, bars in the popular entertainment district of Sanlitun were ordered to “stop their activities” on Tuesday evening.
A reopening must be determined “depending on the epidemic situation” and after “inspections”, according to a municipal opinion consulted by the AFP.
The town hall also called for avoiding non-essential “group meals”.
Preston Thomas, co-owner of The View 3912 gourmet restaurant, had to close for two months at the height of the epidemic, and his establishment is “still recovering,” he said.
“We have 40 staff members and the rent to pay,” says Thomas. “We are worried but we will try to stay open as long as possible. “
Bai Xue, an employee at the Uighur restaurant Pinzhi Yili, says that the number of customers has dropped by two-thirds in recent days.
“The situation is serious and people no longer want to go out,” she deplores.
The establishment stopped selling seafood and posted a sign stating that it does not source from Xinfadi, the huge wholesale market believed to be the source of infections.
The source of the epidemic rebound, which has already killed more than 130 people in the capital, is not known. But the discovery in this market of the new coronavirus on salmon cutting boards fueled suspicions vis-à-vis the fish.
In data | Our interactive content on COVID-19
Wang Kai, owner of the small Nina bar tucked away in the alleys of old Beijing, says he expects fewer customers this week and tighter controls.
With the closure of the Xinfadi market, which typically supplies 70% of the vegetables consumed in Beijing, authorities and businesses are struggling to supply the capital.
Online retail giant JD. com says it has increased its purchases of meat, fruits and vegetables and thus have a volume “three times greater” than usual.
Hebei Province, which surrounds Beijing, has asked several of its agricultural counties to sell and deliver the capital first, the China News Agency reported.
People in Beijing are increasingly reluctant to go to permanent stores for fear of catching the virus.
The popular Meituan mobile delivery app reported a “significant increase” in orders from customers with fresh produce shipped directly to their homes.