Bustling Beijing returns to normal

BEIJING: Traffic jams in downtown Beijing, busy subway stations and bustling shopping malls indicated the city was returning to business as normal on Tuesday, amid the relaxed COVID-19 measures.
Vehicles crawled on all major city roads between 7 am and 9 am, a scene rarely witnessed since COVID-19 response measures were optimized in early December.
Data from the Beijing Transportation Operations Coordination Center indicated a road network traffic index of 8.15, meaning “serious congestion”. It lasted for about an hour.
Lin Fan, who took more than 40 minutes to reach his workplace on Tuesday, said it was the first time traffic jams in the city didn’t cause frustration. “I felt a sense of relief to see so many people outdoors, getting their lives back,” he said. According to the transportation center, 2.41 million commuter trips were recorded in subway stations by 9 am on Tuesday, an increase of 28 percent compared with that of last week. The number of bus trips reached 970,000, an increase of 17 percent.
Commercial establishments and tourism businesses in the city showed promising numbers as well.
Between Saturday and Monday, the three-day New Year’s Day holiday, Beijing’s major department stores, supermarkets, restaurants and online commerce platforms racked up 3.53 billion yuan ($511 million) in total revenue, which was equal to 83.8 percent of the total revenue during the same period the previous year. –Agencies

According to the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau, 52 major commercial areas in the capital saw about 12.18 million visits during the holiday.

Zhao Zesheng, co-president of Hopson Commercial, a real estate developer headquartered in Beijing, said the company’s shopping malls recorded a rapid increase in the number of customers in the past two weeks, especially on weekends and during the New Year’s Day holiday.

“The city government has taken multiple measures to boost consumption, which has given us huge confidence. The soaring number of shoppers and diners in our malls has shown that those measures have been effective,” he said.

Buoyed by optimistic predictions about an economic rebound, Hopson Commercial opened a new mall, called MOHO, in Shanghai’s Jing’an district on Dec 31. “It covers an area of 80,000 square meters and boasts more than 80 top brands, which are expected to establish a new fashion landmark and further drive consumption,” Zhao said.

In the past weeks, Beijing has promoted New Year-themed skating and skiing activities, which have attracted many people.

Holidaymakers also felt more optimistic about going out. A total of 151 major attractions in the city received 2.69 million visits during the holiday, which led to a total revenue of 248.27 million yuan, up 44.5 percent compared with 2019, when there was no pandemic.