Businesses in Chinese City Reluctant to Reopen Due to Lack of Masks, Disinfectant: Internal Documents

March 8, 2020 Updated: March 9, 2020

After business activities across China were halted in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Chinese regime, concerned about the impact on the economy, ordered all companies in non-virus-stricken areas to resume operations.

The Epoch Times obtained internal government documents from Changchun city in northeastern China, wherein local officials complained that many companies were unwilling or unable to resume business due to the lack of supplies to protect against the spread of the virus: alcohol, disinfectant, and protective masks.

Changchun is the capital of Jilin Province, located about 1,300 miles from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

A Feb. 26 report issued by the Kuancheng district within the city of Changchun revealed that the “[Jilin] provincial government and [Changchun] city government have required all businesses except restaurants and the construction sector to resume production by the end of February.”

District officials complained that the directive was not easy to accomplish.

“It’s difficult to control and prevent the [coronavirus] epidemic. … We don’t have the channels to buy masks and other protective products,” the document read.

The district government said in the month of February it has provided “3,200 liters of alcohol [for disinfecting], 2,850 liters of disinfectant, and 3,500 masks” to businesses to help them return to work.

But it wasn’t enough to meet the demand.

The document revealed that in Kuancheng district alone, 104 large and mid-sized enterprises resumed production—representing 63.8 percent of such types of enterprises in the district.

By the Chinese regime’s standards, a mid-sized enterprise is defined as a company with annual revenues of more than 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) and with 300 or more employees.

The district government said in the document: “More and more businesses will resume production to meet the request [from authorities]. The demand for protective materials is getting bigger and bigger. … It’s very hard for us, the district government, to meet the enterprises’ needs.”

Lacking Masks

The broader area of Changchun also didn’t have enough masks.

The Epoch Times also obtained an internal report that the Changchun Health Bureau sent to the city government.

Health officials reported what happened after the city mandated that all protective masks only be sold online, beginning Feb. 17. Physical stores would no longer be allowed to sell them, as required by Jilin provincial governor Jing Junhai.

According to the report, Changchun residents must order online, then pick up their orders from designated pharmacies after presenting their IDs, phone numbers, and order confirmation notice. Each person is only allowed to buy five masks.

“On the first day [Feb. 17], we sold 10,000 masks to 2,000 people who booked online,” the report said. “That day, 1.023 million people tried to order masks online; only 0.2 percent of them succeeded.”

According to official statistics, Changchun has a population of roughly 7.49 million.

Because of the high demand, the bureau decided to sell 20,000 masks per day on Feb. 22. The rule of five masks per person remained.

Many residents tried to place orders. According to the document, every day, all masks were sold out within three and half minutes after the system opened to booking.

Other Areas of the City

In Yushu, a county-level city within Changchun’s jurisdiction, 35 out of the county’s 51 large and mid-scale enterprises resumed production, according to another document, dated Feb. 26, that The Epoch Times obtained. In total, 3,431 employees returned to work.

Yushu county reported that it supplied 1,950 liters of disinfection products and 5,000 masks to these enterprises, but it still was not enough.

In internal documents from the Nong’an and Dehui county governments, they reported to the Changchun city government that “not having enough masks is the key reason why enterprises cannot resume production.”

Some areas of China have deployed local police to force companies into resuming operations.

Click here to download a selection of the documents.