Shanghai Huizhan Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market is slowly returning to business under stricter than usual management to combat the coronavirus, with only the main entrance open and retail stalls staying closed.
Huizhan market, which is the most important trading centre in Shanghai and East China, resumed business on 26 January, straight after Chinese New Year – in keeping with previous years.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, however, the market management has implemented protection measures and tighter controls on operations.
"To better manage personnel entry to the market, Huizhan has currently opened only the main road, with the rest of entrances fully closed. We also closed all the retail stalls in the market, to reduce the flow of people gathering," a spokesperson for the market management told Asiafruit.
While acknowledging that daily trading in most of the major fruit and vegetable wholesale markets in the country has been affected by the coronavirus, he said e-tail orders were generating business, and trading in market had enjoyed a visible rebound in recent days.
Shanghai and neighbouring regions still have significant demand for fresh fruit, and inside Huizhan market, more than half of the resident fruit companies have gradually resumed business, with the vast majority of wholesale stalls having reopened.
At the same time, there is strict screening in place for personnel entering the market.
"We arrange for each person to come in via a sentry box where we can check and report their temperature,” said the official. “No personnel who have been on leave before the Spring Festival are allowed to come back to work before 10 February; personnel who recently returned to Shanghai from other parts of China must provide proof of a 14-day self-quarantine issued by their local residential committee. At the same time, we insist that all businesses wear masks and keep a one to two-metre distance from each other when doing business.”
Operational restrictions aside, a slowdown in import clearance at Shanghai port is also having a big impact on the overall trade.
"Clearance since the outbreak has been affected by many aspects: restricted working hours in shipping companies and forwarding companies, and logistics companies delaying documents, which results in goods not getting checked,” said a spokesperson for Huizhan International Trade, the customs clearance arm of the market management. “The epidemic has also affected the shipping times and capacity for imported goods coming in. But we believe that once the [coronavirus] situation is stable, things will return to normal."