April 9, 2020


Wuhan virus lockdown over, but lingering fears slow recovery (JING XUAN TENG, 4/09/20,  AFP)

Hairstylist "Ah Ping" is back in business now that Wuhan's coronavirus lockdown has been lifted, but his salon has no customers, only empty chairs and lingering fears over a contagion that continues to haunt the city.

Wuhan is waking from its coronavirus nightmare, loosening tight restrictions on movement and business as the global pandemic's launchpad tries to move on.

But full recovery remains hampered by fear of a potential new wave of infections.

Many businesses and all schools are still closed, restaurants aren't allowed dine-in customers, and some neighbourhoods remain sealed off behind barriers.

Residents need to show they have a "healthy" rating on a mandatory phone app to leave their homes, use public transport, or enter most public spaces.

"When people come out, infections will probably rise. I'm really afraid of this," said "Ah Ping", a nickname.

The 43-year-old, who declined to give his full name, also worries about getting his life restarted.

He paid his salon's quarterly rent of 15,000 yuan ($2,100) in full just before Wuhan was locked down on January 23. Now another rental payment is due.

"Isn't that terrible? I paid 15,000 in rent and did no business," he said.

While many other Chinese cities are getting back to near-normal, Wuhan's government has made clear that easing controls poses new perils and that a return to usual life will have to wait.

In some areas, it's been two steps forward, one step back.

Posted by at April 9, 2020 12:00 AM