Markets of days-long closure allowed reopening in line with health guidelines

21 May 2020

It is known to all that markets of days-long closure affected by the global pandemic of COVID-19 are now allowed reopening in Yangon in line with health guidelines issued by the ministry concerned. Most of market places in Yangon teeming with the buyers and the sellers have started resuming operation as of the second week of May in accordance with health guidelines. 

Yazana Plaza, one of the busiest markets in Yangon, was reopened on 16 May with a system allowing only market-lovers wearing face masks to go in the plaza from five designated entrances although it formerly had 20 entrances.


Speaking to MI Radio about the warning they are giving to the shopkeepers once every fifteen minutes in the plaza to follow social distancing guidance to prevent the people from being crowded in the plaza, U Min Min Soe, in-charge of Yuzana Plaza in Mingala Taungnyunt Township, said “There were formerly 20 entrances in the plaza. Now all the entrances are not kept open, but five designated entrances allow only those wearing masks to go in. There those coming to the plaza have to wear masks. If those failing to wear masks, we make them buy the masks. Hand gels are given to them. We measure the body temperature of the comers. In this way we are taking action in the plaza.  We are giving warning to the shopkeepers once every fifteen minutes to follow social distancing guidance in order to prevent the people from being crowded in the plaza. The market development affairs committee and the market committee are supervising the disciplines. Our aims are to do business and prevent against the disease. Now we are starting this week. We are monitoring the situation by CCTV and most of the people are wearing masks. When we found those failing to wear masks, we rang up to our people around them to make them wear masks.  We are thinking to take action against those failing to wear masks.”

A 60 % of shop rooms in Yuzana Plaza are reopening now and the plaza refuses those failing to wear masks to go in. If the CCTV found those failing to wear masks, nearby securities made them wear masks. Health awareness of the buyers and the sellers is conducted once every fifteen minutes in the plaza. The plaza is operating with a total of 220 staff. The buying and selling activities in the plaza still remain cold and some shop rooms have yet to reopen. 

U Khin Maung Win, who is the owner of Baby Pharmacy of Yuzana Plaza, spoke to MI Radio about those coming to the plaza are not many as it reopens only now, he said “As soon as Yuzana Plaza reopens, those coming to the plaza are not many. Those going out are small numbers. Health-related items such as spirit and face masks are in demand. The prices don’t hike. A face mask costs K200. A variety of medicines are available especially coming from India and South Korea. If we are going on staying according to health guidelines, COVID-19 will gradually disappear. At the time the buying and selling activities will return to normal. Now the people don’t go out yet.”

Yuzana Plaza currently opens at about 7.45 a.m. in the morning and closes at about 5 p.m. in the evening. Formerly the opening hours were at 9 a.m. in the morning and closing was at 6 p.m. in the evening. At the closing hours of the plaza, disinfestation work is carried out. 

Speaking to MI Radio about buying and selling activities do not go well and they are struggling with this difficult situation, Daw Than Nwe Aye, the owner of Than Nwe Aye Clothing Shop in Yuzana Plaza, said, “Our business is not good at all. Today buyers are just a few. If I say, the trade situation between this year and last year shows a very big gap. We regularly earn K3 million to K4 million a day, but now we earn only more than K50,000. I have no idea how to say. Now is very different from the past. The customers from the countryside have not placed orders yet. A large supply still remains in the warehouse. Now it is difficult for us to earn a living.”

In general, now is the time preparing for school opening season and so the trade goes well. But this year COVID-19 has negative effect on the buying and selling activities. Some shops have to strive to get the first buyer. At such a time, the shops are reopening for the reason of family’s basic needs; on the other hand, they are paying heed to the prevention against the virus infection. 

According to Ma Khin May Kyi, the sale staff of Pyae Sone Phyo Clothing Shop, she spoke to MI Radio that they have to try to see the first buyer and whenever she goes to the plaza, she wear a mask, she said “The buying and selling activities are not as good as the past. We are trying to wait the very first buyer. Those coming to the plaza are a few and so we have to close the shop a little earlier than the closing hours. I have to be careful about carrying the money. I always carry and use hand gel. I wear the mask when I leave for the plaza in the morning. I wash hands whatever I touch.”

Zwe Mahn and Pyay Thein