June 16, 2020 / 11:58 AM / 19 days ago

As coronavirus returns, Beijingers face disruption, anxiety

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing’s scramble to contain a coronavirus outbreak, just over a week after containment measures had been eased and life had returned to near-normal, is disrupting activity for many residents and fueling concerns of further tightening.

Many expressed faith in the city’s ability to control the latest outbreak, but others expressed renewed anxiety.

Measures have been strictest in the southwestern district of Fengtai, home to the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale market, thought to be the origin of the latest outbreak that emerged late last week, which has infected 106 people.

Some gyms have closed, and swimming pools across the city, which only re-opened earlier this month, have been told to shut again. The same applies to places of worship, including Yonghe Lamasery, a popular landmark, hurting nearby businesses.

“It only opened for three days and indeed there were some people,” said Zhu Li, 44, who has been struggling to keep her Buddhist-themed products store afloat during the outbreak.

“I had been happy for three days. Then it shut down.”

Some companies asked employees to work from home again, and temperature screening and other checks, including travel history QR codes and passes, were enforced with renewed vigor.

“Now it’s much harder to get into some places, some (residential) compounds, alleyways and the like,” said a delivery worker surnamed Yang, 35, as he hauled a large trolley of packages.

“You need passes to get in and out of these compounds. But people like us can’t get such a pass.”

“Not much has changed, but from a psychological view, I’ve become more careful,” said Xu Qi, 50, who works for a steel union and lives in east Beijing’s Dongcheng district.

Slideshow (5 Images)

“Because after all we have had so many cases again, and I think it is more infectious. Right now it’s hard to tell where it came from, so I’m still a bit nervous.”

Bride-to-be Helen Shi, 27, who works in human resources and had already delayed her wedding ceremony once because of the outbreak, just hopes things return to normal soon.

“The restrictions had just been eased a bit, and people were able to travel and to visit family. But now the outbreak happened again, and plans for the next 6 months may be ruined.”

Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard, Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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