WUHAN, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Like many in Wuhan, Liu Ni, a 46-year-old florist, had to close her shop for months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but with the city's reviving nightlife, her business has picked up now.
The city once hit the hardest by the COVID-19 epidemic in China has attracted global attention -- water parks, beer festival, and night bazaars are breathing new life into the city that saw a 76-day lockdown.
LIFE BLOOMING WITH FLOWERS
After closing her shop at 4 p.m., Liu Ni and her two nieces headed for the Star City Plaza night bazaar where they run a flower stall.
The bazaar opened in July for the first time and has been since bustling with visitors every day after dusk. Even with masks on, the eyes of the visitors emanate their joyous smile.
Around 100 stands have been erected in the bazaars, with vendors and peddlers selling T-shirts, trinkets, toys and a variety of food and snacks. People can also enjoy recreational activities such as quoits, balloon shooting and fishing.
Under a green canopy, Liu exhibited some 20 buckets of flowers, including roses, daisies and lilies, priced 9.9 yuan (around 1.45 U.S. dollars) for each bunch.
"I was heavily burdened in the first half of the year. The epidemic rendered me to suspend business, while I still had to pay the housing loan," Liu said, who rushed to rent a stall three days after the opening of the bazaar.
"Compared with my shop in the back street, there are more passersby here. I can earn hundreds of yuan every night, which greatly adds to my family income," she said.
JOINING HANDS TO RELISH LIFE
As night drew in, foodies in Wuhan crowded into the Wansongyuan Road, a well-known food street where hundreds of restaurants and food stalls are located.
Fang Bokai, 28, owner of a restaurant named "Only Selling Oysters," was busy placing mushed garlic and vermicelli noodles on tens of oysters before putting them in ovens, as waiters stood by to serve the delicacy to customers.
Nearly all the tables in the restaurant were occupied by customers, and several people were waiting on the doorstep to grab takeaways.
Together with five staff members, Fang can sell more than 1,000 oysters every day, up 30 percent from the same period in the last two years.
But, a few months back the situation was different. In the first half of the year, Fang incurred a loss of over 100,000 yuan due to the epidemic. His restaurant couldn't be opened until April 11, three days after Wuhan lifted its outbound traffic restriction which had lasted for 76 days.
"Our business slumped in the first two months after resumption of work, as many people did not dare to leave their home or dine out," Fang said, adding that the turn came in July when more consumers began to dine in restaurants.
Meanwhile, instead of manual handling of bills by a cashier, Fang put QR codes on each table so people can order food by themselves using their phones. "It is not only more convenient but can also reduce unnecessary direct contact among people," Fang said.
Fang has been cooperating with restaurants nearby to promote each other's menus. "We are trying to help each other to generate more sales. My customers can order food from other restaurants and our waiters will fetch dishes for them," he said.
According to a survey conducted by Wuhan's restaurant and catering association, as of Aug. 30, nearly all fast food, barbecue and hotpot restaurants in the city had resumed operation, and 81 percent of customers had chosen to dine in.
COOLING DOWN, CHEERING UP
After an early dinner outside, Xiong Liang drove his wife and son to the Playa Maya Water Park to relieve the summer heat. It was their first swim of the year.
"My son has been talking about swimming for two months, and sometimes he even held the inflatable ring under the showerhead at home, but I was afraid to visit pools where people may gather without masks," said Xiong, who then changed his mind after learning that the water park has adopted strict epidemic prevention measures.
Visitors must wear masks while entering the park and are required to show health codes before entry. Besides, mandatory temperature screening is also in place. Though visitors can take off their masks inside the park; however, all staff members, no matter in water or onshore, would prefer to keep wearing their masks.
Besides swimming, Xiong and his family drifted down a 750-meter waterway by a rented dinghy and tried some water slides and amusement facilities in the water park. Xiong said the queuing time has far shortened now.
"I am so excited that I feel the same summer joy as I did before," said Xiong, who had volunteered to work in his community during Wuhan's lockdown, taking temperatures, delivering vegetables and buying medicine for residents.
"I can remember the difficult days we endured, so I know this joy did not come easy," Xiong said. "Since the epidemic, such everyday happiness in life seems more precious."