- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

BEIJING (AP) - In a normal year, the city of Beijing springs to life in the closing days of the annual weeklong Lunar New Year holiday as families leave home to shop, dine and visit tourist attractions.

But this is not a normal year.

Fears of a virus outbreak have kept many indoors and at home in China’s capital. Cultural landmarks such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City have closed their doors to visitors. Nearly deserted shopping malls have reduced their operating hours, and those restaurants that remain open draw just a handful of customers. Streets and subway stations are empty.

The government has extended the holiday period, giving everyone three additional days off. But at what is usually one of the busiest periods for tourism, most seem to be using the extra vacation to hunker down at home.

Those who do go to work find themselves with plenty of time on their hands. A clerk at an empty clothing store fiddles with her smartphone, always a popular pastime for a young generation addicted to messaging, movies and games.

At a coffee shop with just one customer, food delivery drivers normally seen tearing through traffic or sprinting through office buildings occupy a table near the door, shooting the breeze.

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