by Xinhua writer Zhang Zhongkai, Gao Han and Dong Yalei
URUMQI, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Holding their cellphones, spectators on Saturday danced in a circle to music with strong local features at the International Grand Bazaar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The sight in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, was pulsating with joy despite the mask on every dancer's face, one of the few reminders that the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic has not ended nationwide.
The usual hustle and bustle is returning to the bazaar, where vendors were seen touting everything from garments, musical instruments, potteries, jewelry to fruits and local delicacies.
As a key sightseeing and shopping destination in Xinjiang, the bazaar is frequented by tourists as well as locals. It reopened most of its sections on March 10 after being suspended due to the outbreak.
Its reopening is part of Xinjiang's efforts to revive social and economic activities as the epidemic is receding. The region's emergency response was downgraded to the lowest level on Sunday, after no new cases of the COVID-19 have been reported for over a month.
Business volumes have rebounded to about 60 percent to 70 percent of the usual level, with some 23,000 visits recorded each day last week, according to a tourism firm that is one of the bazaar's operators.
Local authorities have rolled out fiscal and financial policies to ease vendors' strain during the epidemic.
"The epidemic's impact is not so obvious, as winter is usually a slack season for us," said Rayhan Sayit, owner of an embroidery shop at the bazaar, adding that she is getting busier every day.
Precautions are still in place. Temperatures are taken at the entrances of each section, while visitors are demanded to wear masks. Public areas are disinfected regularly.
Many bazaars in other parts of Xinjiang also reopened, offering convenience to people, especially those in the countryside, in buying food, clothes and other daily necessities.
Luo Fang, a local resident, recently enjoyed local food with her visiting relatives at the food square of the International Grand Bazaar and planned to buy some local specialties as gifts.
"Thanks to the effective epidemic prevention and control efforts, we feel safe to dine out and travel now," Luo said.