Life back in the fast lane thanks to officials' actions
Tourists race down a colorful slide in an amusement park in Heilonghe village in the county of Lingqiu after the pandemic is brought under control in Shanxi. [Photo by Liu Tong for China Daily]
After a standstill of about a month due to the COVID-19 outbreak in April, life and business are finally back to normal in Shanxi province.
This was what Wang Lei, a resident in the provincial capital of Taiyuan, felt.
He had a busy day on May 27, eating breakfast at a restaurant near his home in the early morning, rushing to his office by bus, answering inquiries from clients, buying vegetables and fruits during his lunch break, and collecting several parcels of goods delivered by couriers when returning home.
"This is another ordinary day and this is the life I expect," Wang said.
The resumption of business and normal life in Taiyuan, as well as the rest of Shanxi, has been quick due to the government's efforts to help to spur consumption and supply.
Issuing coupons to encourage residents to spend more is one of the incentives offered by the local governments.
In the early morning of May 21, Sun Lifei, another Taiyuan resident, was informed by the official WeChat account of the Taiyuan government that shopping coupons would be issued online at 10 am.
She leapt to action and obtained 10 coupons for commodities and services in various categories. The largest value of a coupon was 800 yuan ($120), which is good for buying home appliances at prices surpassing 4,000 yuan.
Sun said she had a plan to buy an air conditioner. So the next day she bought one with a tagged price of 4,000 yuan and spent only 3,200 yuan.
"Thanks to the government's incentive, I got a really good deal," Sun said.
There were incentives from almost all the city governments in Shanxi.
In Changzhi, for instance, the shopping coupons were valued at 50 million yuan, while those in Linfen were valued at 300 million yuan.
For catering industry players, the resumption of the dine-in business was the most significant support to their operations.
In Taiyuan, dine-in business was resumed in late April, if operators could meet the requirements of disinfection, temperature check and reasonable spacing.
On May 27, Li Kun, a manager at Shanxi Guild House, a restaurant chain in Taiyuan, said business of almost all outlets returned to the pre-pandemic level.
"While offering services to individual diners, we are hosting weddings and banquets for businesses," Li said.
The catering industry was one of the hardest-hit during this new round of the pandemic, with some business owners facing mounting pressure because of the lack of cash flow.
"The government immediately came to help," Li said. "As far as I know, its supportive measures include reducing taxes and fees; offering subsidies for loans; and issuing coupons to diners."
The tourism sector, another industry under great pressure, has also recovered quickly.
Li Yanfeng, a resident in the northern Shanxi city of Datong, took his son to visit the Drum Tower Street, a local historical block, on Saturday.
"The street was filled with hawking cries, the snack stands were crowded with people, and there were a lot of folk performances near the Drum Tower," Li Yanfeng said.
According to Chen Shaoqing, deputy chief of the Datong culture and tourism bureau, the boom in tourism is a result of a government-sponsored tourism festival, which was held from June 3-5.
Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.