Wuhan weathered Covid-19. But can it survive what comes next?
It was just three months ago that Mr Wang was paying the workers at his Wuhan restaurant their Chinese New Year bonuses and celebrating his third year in business.
Now, after 76 days under lockdown in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, he has been left mentally and financially drained, with his business facing ruin.
The lockdown on Wuhan was lifted on April 8. But two weeks later Wang’s restaurant is still not allowed to fully reopen, due to restrictions on eat-in dining.
Despite having no business, he’s still had to pay three months rent — worth almost $8,500 (60,000 yuan). With fears rising of a second wave of infections which could cause even more financial pain across China, Wang said he has no choice but to close shop.
“In Wuhan, there are many people like us who can no longer go back to what they were doing before the outbreak,” he said. Wang asked us to only use his first name over concerns about the consequences of talking to foreign media.
Wang is just one of Wuhan’s many business owners struggling to get back on their feet in a difficult local economy. In the first quarter of the year alone, the economy of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, shrank by almost 40%, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
That’s in addition to the mental toll from a strict and lengthy lockdown, the fear of the viral outbreak itself and grief at the loss of loved ones and friends.
Wang said three relatives had caught the novel coronavirus, one of whom passed away from the disease. The family was unable to have a funeral for him.
“During that period, we were actually really terrified, really terrified,” he said.