COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine measures depress key Chinese sectors
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Chinese government indices that track manufacturing and services fell in February, indicating contraction in both industries. This comes as the country is containing COVID-19, with the number of recoveries outnumbering that of new infections.
“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Marketplace’s China correspondent Jennifer Pak in Shanghai about what life is like there now.
“For businesses, especially for January and February, these are slow months because of the Lunar New Year holiday,” Pak said. “So for all intents and purposes, March is when companies really have to make their quarter-one targets.”
The key question for these businesses, Pak said, is whether they can resume their operations after shutting down because of both the holiday and the virus. “The two key things that are preventing them for restarting are travel restrictions between provinces and also this self-quarantine measure for 14 days,” she said.
Outside the world of business, Pak said life is slowly coming back to the streets of Shanghai. More people are on the streets, and some restaurants have reopened sit-down dining services.
Click the audio player above to hear the interview.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?
Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.
How has the pandemic changed scientific research?
Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.
What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?
Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”
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