Home Economy China’s recreation sector forced to shut down again over COVID-19 fears

China’s recreation sector forced to shut down again over COVID-19 fears

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Many businesses in the recreational industry such as in Shanghai and Chengdu that recently resumed operations have had to suspend again to enhance prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to local authorities and institutes. 

Experts advocated the move which is to consolidate China’s achievements in combating the COVID-19 epidemic while calling for a gradual resumption of businesses in the face of the onslaught of imported cases and the threat of asymptomatic patients who are hard to detect. 

Premier Li Keqiang emphasized enhanced COVID-19 prevention and control work, especially prevention against asymptomatic patients, at a meeting on Monday.

After about 10 days of opening, multiple tourist attractions in Shanghai were closed again on Monday, including its landmark buildings Shanghai Tower, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai Jinmao Tower in Lujiazui of Pudong New Area, the Global Times has learned. 

Asymptomatic patients are quite tricky. It is difficult to discover them as they show no symptoms. Sometimes, nucleic acid testing is also inaccurate for them, according to Zhou Zijun, a professor at the Peking University School of Public Health.

A customer service employee of the Oriental Pearl Tower told the Global Times on Monday that the company received a notice from the Shanghai authorities to close in a bid to contain coronavirus spread. The tower only received a limited number of visitors since reopening on March 12. It is still not decided when it will be reopening again.

A ticket seller of the city’s sightseeing bus, who offered discounted bus tickets outside the landmark building the Oriental Pearl Tower, told the Global Times that all tourist attractions in the neighborhood were closed.  Tourists now can go to Puxi, west of the Huangpu River, and stroll along the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street and the Bund.

Shanghai Tower, China’s tallest skyscraper, also closed its sightseeing hall Top of Shanghai Observatory on Monday shortly after reopening on March 12. 

The manager of the public relations department of Shanghai Tower surnamed Cheng told the Global Times that the company had to wait for further notice from the authorities to decide when to reopen. 

Many other Chinese cities are also closing amusement venues that had only reopened days earlier. China Film Administration called off a move for cinemas to resume business over the weekend, although some 528 cinemas should have resumed by March 23, the Yangtse News Post reported.  

Some customers were asked to leave while they were in the middle of a song in a KTV in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province on March 28, as the province asked amusement venues, including internet cafeterias, pubs, gaming centers and KTVs to remain closed, media reported.  

The move is probably aimed to enhance prevention and control measures against the COVID-19 in the face of continuous asymptomatic and imported cases while businesses gradually resume in the country, experts noted. 

More than 700 imported cases have been reported in China, Liu Haitao, a senior official with the National Immigration Administration announced Monday. 

To tackle the threat, China will further cut international flights to only 108 from Sunday to April 4, which is 1.2 percent of the number before the epidemic during the same period, China’s aviation authority announced on a press conference Monday. 

Northwest China’s Gansu Province on Monday said it will enhance management on asymptomatic patients as the province reported one such case on Sunday, a person who drove from Hubei to Gansu a week ago with a green code, which is a QR health code that allows people to move freely.  

A woman in Luohe, Henan Province, was confirmed with the infection on Saturday after having close contact with an asymptomatic patient who contracted the virus from another asymptomatic patient.

Some observers worry over the income of employees in the entertainment industry because of the prolonged suspension.  

However, some experts warned that, to protect the country’s hard-earned achievements in containing the virus, it is better for China not to fully embrace work and business resumption immediately in face of threats of asymptomatic patients and imported cases, especially in indoor amusement venues where it is extremely likely to contract the virus.

According to Cheng with the Shanghai Tower, only about 100 visitors came to the sightseeing hall every day after it resumed operation. But the place received estimated 4,000 to 5,000 visitors daily on working days before the COVID-19 epidemic, and sometimes the number exceeded 10,000 on holidays. 

“For sightseeing spots, there will be no revenue if we don’t open,” Cheng said.

An employee at a cinema in Jiuting town of Shanghai said that due to the outbreak, the cinema had been closed since January 23. He said that the prospects of his cinema are gloomy. “We have to pay rent, property management and salaries as usual. I am afraid we are not able to hold out long,” he said.

GLOBAL TIMES

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