Chinese island of Sanya closes duty-free malls due to COVID outbreak

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Sanya, one of the top tropical holiday destinations on China’s southern island of Hainan, began closing its duty-free malls on Friday in response to exacerbation of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since China close their international borders In early 2020, to contain the spread of COVID-19, Hainan’s duty free industry boomed, becoming a vital conduit for global brands from Gucci to Coach, La Mer and L’Oreal to attract Chinese shoppers.

But the Sanya International Duty Free City in Haitan Bay, operated by the China Duty Free Group and Hainan’s largest offshore mall, closed indefinitely on Friday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a post on its Weibo account said.

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This closure comes despite the fact that no cases of the current outbreak have been detected in Hainan Bay so far. While the number of cases in China is low compared to the rest of the world, Beijing has a “dynamic zero” policy in which it imposes tight restrictions to stop any transmission of the virus.

China will close its duty-free mall to curb COVID during the latest outbreak.  Pictured: Sanya International Duty Free Trade Complex in Sanya, China's Hainan Province, November 11.  25, 2020.

China will close its duty-free mall to curb COVID during the latest outbreak. Pictured: Sanya International Duty Free Trade Complex in Sanya, China’s Hainan Province, November 11. 25, 2020.

Health officials in Hainan said at a briefing on Friday that from Aug. 1 to Aug. 5, the total number of locally confirmed cases reported in the current outbreak was 191.

Entertainment venues, including many bars and cinemas, as well as some tourist sites, have also closed to help stem the spread of the virus, although hotels remain open and many contacted by Reuters said they were operating as normal.

This is the second time that duty-free malls have been forced to close on Hainan in 2022, and the island also closed in April due to another outbreak.

outbreaks in March and April made a big impact on us,” said Sanya International Duty Free City catering worker, known by the English name Dream.

She added that business is back to 70-80% of last year’s levels before the latest outbreak.

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Just last week, Haikou, the capital of Hainan, hosted the second China International Consumer Goods Show, where LVMH, Kering, Richemont, Tapestry and Burberry were featured among global brands.

Last year, thanks to increased mainland consumer spending and policy measures, the value of offshore sales of duty-free goods in Hainan reached about 49.5 billion yuan, which is about 7.3 billion US dollars at the current exchange rate, up 80% than last year.

“Now in August, the virus is back, making it very difficult to do business,” Dream told Reuters.