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Scenic areas advised to be cautious when reopening

By WANG KEJU | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-27 08:52
People visit the West Lake scenic area in Zhejiang province's Hangzhou. Some scenic spots in the country have reopened. Scenic areas limit the number of visitors to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. [Photo by Zheng Mengyu/Xinhua]

Scenic areas that have resumed operations amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak should take stringent epidemic-control measures, China's culture and tourism authority said.

Liu Kezhi, chief of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's market regulation department, said at a news conference on Wednesday that scenic spots often host large numbers of people, so the resumption should be guided by local governments after an overall assessment of conditions and necessity.

Liu said reopenings of tourist attractions in regions with a lower risk of infection should be approved by local governments and that such attractions in high risk areas should remain closed for now.

His remarks followed recent reports of crowds of tourists at some scenic spots after 13 provincial-level regions lowered their emergency response levels related to the epidemic and the number of new infections outside Hubei province-the epicenter of the outbreak-continued to trend downward, dropping to just five cases nationwide on Tuesday.

Statistics from online travel agency Ctrip showed that more than 300 major scenic spots nationwide were open to the public by Tuesday, more than 10 times the previous week.

Fragrant Hills in suburban Beijing witnessed traffic jams last weekend after a large number of tourists swarmed into the forest park. Its management bureau later shut down the indoor areas and closed five parking lots from Monday in an effort to limit the number of tourists.

The unexpected crowds at some tourist attractions have triggered worries about risks of spreading the virus.

On Tuesday night, the ministry issued a set of guidelines requiring real-name ticketing along with tourists' contact and transportation information and encouraging full use of big data-powered technology to monitor tourist information in real time as scenic attractions have gradually started reopening.

The guidelines also noted that scenic spots that are set to reopen should strictly control the daily maximum capacity and offer online ticket booking services to avoid crowds. Tourists should have their temperatures taken and wear masks before entering as well.

The ministry also required scenic spots to monitor and report their employees' health conditions and beef up hygiene and epidemic control at major sites. Venues or activities that could draw large crowds should remain shut.

Tourist attractions will organize training related to epidemic prevention and control for staff before they open to the public. 

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