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Sanya, a top tropical vacation destination on China’s southern island of Hainan, began closing its duty-free malls on Friday in response to a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

Since China closed its international borders in early 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19, Hainan’s duty-free industry has exploded, becoming a vital conduit for global brands, from Gucci to Coach, to La Mer at L’Oreal, to reach Chinese buyers.

But the Sanya International Duty Free City in Haitang Bay, operated by China Duty Free Group and Hainan’s largest offshore shopping mall, closed for an indefinite period on Friday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a post on his account says. Weibo.

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This closure comes even though no cases in the current Hainan outbreak have yet been detected in Haitang Bay. Although the number of cases in China is small compared to the rest of the world, Beijing pursues a “dynamic zero” policy which involves taking severe measures to stop the transmission of the virus.

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

Hainan health officials said at a press conference Friday that the cumulative number of local confirmed cases reported in the current outbreak was 191 from Aug. 1 to 5.

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

This is the second time that duty free malls have been forced to close in Hainan in 2022, with the island also closing in April in the wake of another outbreak.

“The outbreaks in March and April had a big impact on us,” said a restaurant worker at Sanya International Duty Free City who goes by the name Dream in English.

He added that activity has returned from 70 to 80 percent of last year’s levels prior to the latest outbreak.

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Just last week, Hainan’s capital Haikou hosted the second China International Consumer Products Expo, where LVMH, Kering, Richemont, Tapestry and Burberry were among the global brands on display.

Last year, buoyed by consumer spending on the mainland and political moves, the value of offshore sales of duty-free items in Hainan reached about 49.5 billion yuan, about $ 7.3 billion at current exchange rates. with an increase of 80% on an annual basis.

“The virus came back in August, making it very difficult to do business,” Dream told Reuters.

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