S. Koreans optimistic about business as city gets back on track

WHEN South Koreans Yu Eun-ju and Gil Na-hyun opened their coffee shop at Terra sci-tech park in Chegongmiao, Futian District, on Jan. 15, they weren’t prepared for a COVID-19 resurgence that led to a sharp drop in customers and business suspension for days.

The two Shenzhen University graduates are now optimistic that they will manage to navigate their newly opened business through difficult times, as Shenzhen has brought the latest COVID flare-ups largely under control and taken a slew of measures to mitigate the epidemic’s impact on production and business operations.

They said their shop “A thing Coffee” had a steady customer flow after its soft opening in January, when the city’s COVID situation was stable.

However, a COVID-19 outbreak emerged in early February. Shenzhen had reported sporadic new local infections starting Jan. 31, with 165 positive cases logged between Feb. 15 and 28, data from the health commission showed.

According to a notice issued by the Tian’an Community in Shatou Subdistrict, where their coffee shop is located, the community was subject to COVID restrictions for control areas from Feb. 27 to March 2.

During that period, residents were prohibited from leaving the community and having gatherings, and were required to pick up deliveries at staggered hours. But shortly after they resumed greeting customers following the lifting of COVID restrictions, Shenzhen stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Bus and Metro services were suspended, and businesses were closed except for those providing essential services from March 14 to 20.

“As the epidemic situation was relatively severe in Futian, we had to put our business on hold for about 10 days. We’re closed for most of March,” they told Shenzhen Daily on Tuesday.

Yu and Gil were anxious during the lockdown and didn’t expect March to go by so quickly. They held online meetings and discussed their plans for April, as the epidemic greatly impacted their turnover.

As both the store’s bosses and the only employees at the moment, Yu and Gil said that they’ve heard about the city government’s relief measures to help businesses.

“We’ve spoken with our landlord on rent reductions. And we’ll see if we are eligible to apply for relevant subsidies for eateries,” Yu said.

Although their expenses since the store’s opening have exceeded their budget, they are confident in their business. “Though the pandemic still looms large, there is a great need for coffee. As long as we make good food, they [the customers] are willing to buy,” Gil said.

Eateries within the sci-tech park are allowed to resume dine-in services and operate at 50% capacity between March 21 and 27, and at 75% capacity between Monday and April 5, according to notices issued by the city’s COVID control authorities.

Gil and Yu first came to Shenzhen in 2016 as exchange students at Shenzhen Polytechnic. In 2017, they enrolled in Shenzhen University’s undergraduate programs to study Chinese.

According to them, they have been in love with Shenzhen since they were exchange students at Shenzhen Polytechnic.

“A lot of people say you’re a Shenzhener once you’ve arrived. We felt that people in Shenzhen are very friendly and willing to help us when we need help,” Yu said.

“We also believe that there is plenty of room for business in Shenzhen as the city has a large number of young people,” Gil said.

(Source: ShenzhenDaily)

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