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Wuhan to lift travel restrictions on April 8

By ZHANG YANGFEI in Beijing and WANG XIAODONG in Wuhan | | Updated: 2020-03-24 12:51
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People wearing masks are seen on the street in Xiaogan, Central China's Hubei province, March 23, 2020. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/]

Hubei province announced on Tuesday that it will reopen Wuhan's transportation connections to areas outside the city on April 8 and lift traffic controls in other parts of the province starting on Wednesday.

The decision marks the virtual end of a mass lockdown that lasted more than two months in Hubei's capital city.

Areas in the province other than Wuhan will restore outbound traffic on Wednesday, and people will need to show a health code-a digital health certificate issued by health authorities-when leaving the province. People from other provinces can travel within the province with the health code issued by their original provinces.

The government said Wuhan will maintain stringent traffic controls until April 8.

On Jan 23, Wuhan declared a lockdown of the city after the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak, which had seen 50,006 infections in the city as of Monday, making it the hardest-hit city during the epidemic on the Chinese mainland.

With a population of over 11 million, Wuhan is a key land and water transportation hub in Central China.

To reduce the spread of the virus, the government put the city under lockdown by shutting services at the airport, railway stations, ferry ports and long-distance bus stations, as well as suspending all public transport services in the city and sealing off highway entrances and exits.

As the number of confirmed cases in Wuhan soared rapidly in late January and early February, the city imposed stricter measures that locked down all housing complexes to outsiders.

The easing of traffic restrictions came as the number of new infections in Hubei has seen a continuous drop since March. By the end of Monday, regions outside Wuhan in Hubei had seen zero new infections for 19 days in a row and Wuhan also reported zero new cases for five consecutive days from March 18 to 22.

The announcement said Wuhan will gradually resume production based on risk evaluation. The reopening of schools, colleges, kindergartens and vocational institutions remains postponed and will be set at a later date.

The provincial government urged all localities to strictly manage risks brought by the increased movement of people and gatherings and properly respond to imported risks.

It also asked for work arrangements to be refined to ensure safe and orderly traffic and active promotion of the resumption of work and production to minimize the losses and restore normal economic and social development as soon as possible.

"Lifting the lockdown means the epidemic is over and everything will be back to normal," said Liu Xiaocui, a resident in Wuhan who is recovering from COVID-19. "It also means that all the efforts from everyone have not been in vain," she said.

Feng Bangli, an employee at a printing company in the city, said he was glad to hear the news that Wuhan will lift the lockdown and that his company will resume production soon so that he can go to work again.

"I want to thank the central government for its effective efforts, which resulted in the containment of the epidemic," he said.


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