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‘Last weekend was crazy like Christmas’: Stratford traders weigh up impact of coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:53 10 March 2020

The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. Picture: Jon King

The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. Picture: Jon King

Archant

It’s business as usual in spite of the coronavirus for shoppers and traders.

Les Barry said the weather had been affecting footfall more than the coronavirus. Picture: Jon KingLes Barry said the weather had been affecting footfall more than the coronavirus. Picture: Jon King

Some shopkeepers and market traders in Stratford reported a drop in custom when news of the virus first emerged, but footfall has been dampened more by the wet weather.

Helen Li, a general assistant at Loon Fung in the Stratford Centre, said: 'The shop is always busy. When the virus first began it was not as busy, but last weekend was crazy like Christmas.'

Shoppers at the Chinese supermarket have been stocking up on dried goods including noodles, rice and tinned products such as congee.

'People are anxious about the situation. They want food that can last longer,' Helen said.

The Stratford Centre will be closed from 8pm to 5am for the next 28 days. Picture: Jon KingThe Stratford Centre will be closed from 8pm to 5am for the next 28 days. Picture: Jon King

Les Barry, who has worked at the Stratford Meats stall for 25 years, said last week was quieter because of the bad weather, but trade has returned to normal.

But speaking personlly he admitted coronavirus felt a little bit scary.

'Hopefully, we can ride it out, but it's going to get worse before it gets better. Up to now not a lot has changed,' Les said.

However, the concern is that people who self-isolate will be unable to go out shopping, buying online instead, he added.

Betty demonstrates her alternative to a handshake. Picture: Jon KingBetty demonstrates her alternative to a handshake. Picture: Jon King

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Shopper, Claude Auguste, said he hasn't changed his behaviour because of reports of coronavirus.

'At the moment there's sufficient information to make people aware of it. If people were concerned, a lot more would wear masks. We're just hoping this thing doesn't spread,' the 72-year old said.

Betty, who asked not to be named in full, said: 'People need to be careful and not take anything for granted.

'People should be conscious of it. I think a lot of people are aware of the need to keep themselves clean.'

The Jehovah's witness added she avoids shaking hands, covers her mouth when she coughs and avoids touching her face.

She has even come up with a novel way of greeting people as an alternative to a handshake, bumping toes instead.

'It's good to be conscious of [coronavirus],' she said.

Helen Li said last weekend was 'crazy like Christmas' when asked how coronavirus was affecting trade. Picture: Jon KingHelen Li said last weekend was 'crazy like Christmas' when asked how coronavirus was affecting trade. Picture: Jon King

As of March 4, a total of 16,659 people have been tested for the virus in the UK, of which 16,574 were confirmed negative. A total of 85 were confirmed as positive.

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

The NHS advises people to wash their hands more often than usual and for 20 seconds and whenever you get home or into work; blow your nose, sneeze or cough and eat or handle food.


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