End of Ramadan met with muted celebrations in Xinjiang due to COVID-19

The coronavirus has turned things upside down this year, especially in northwestern China's Xinjiang Region.

Eid al-Fitr, or the Roza Festival as it is known in Xinjiang, is usually a bustling day of celebrations. This year things are far more subdued. 

Abulaitituersun, the owner of the popular Nanahan Bakery in Urumqi, the region's capital, said the usual pastries and baked goods made for the Roza Festival were still flying off the shelves. 

The bakery had rushed to produce big batches on Sunday for last-minute shoppers. But many have decided to spend the three-day holiday at home, avoiding outings and family visits. More people are using the Internet to order cakes. 

"There are more online bookings this year. People order online and we deliver to their doors, with no human contact needed. The carriers get temperature checks and disinfections all the time. So does the bakery," said Abulaitituersun.

Some found tradition too hard to break and shopped in person. But there have bee fewer customers. The pandemic has made people cautious even though the region has been free of new coronavirus cases for close to three months now.

Carrefour's Grand Bazaar branch, one of Urumqi's largest supermarkets, stocked up more than a week ago with must-have items for the holiday, including sweets, nuts and fruits. 

Even though there were people splurging for the Rozah Festival, business was still slower than usual. The supermarket's branch manager, Kailibinuer, said, "(Sales) still lag behind last year," she said, "partly because fewer tourists have traveled here. The tourists used to buy up holiday items and local specialties too," she added.

The crowds and spontaneous square dancing may be missing from this year's Rozah Festival, but people say they are still celebrating its message of love and sharing.