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The April 4th holiday weekend in China saw citizens flocking to tourist destinations and public places in vast numbers, despite the country being under lockdown just a fews days before that.
Images emerged online on Saturday of densely packed crowds gathering at the Huangshan Mountain Park, a popular tourist destination in the Anhui province. Many were wearing face masks while they stood tightly packed in queues.
According to Communist Party newspaper ‘Global Times’, the crowds were so huge that park authorities declared the site at its daily capacity of 20,000 as early as 7:48 am, and were forced to turn away other tourists because they could not be accommodated.
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People were generally eager to go out after a long period indoors during the nationwide lockdown, but the surge was also attributed to entrance fees being waived. This was done to promote tourism in the Anhui Province for the first two weeks of April. About 31 scenic destinations across the province were made free for the public.
Similar scenes were observed in Hangzhou, where 55 scenic spots were made free to visit, and reservations were also taken to control the daily reception of visitors.
These gatherings emerged as the government began a gradual re-opening of manufacturing and service industries across the country.
However, medical experts warn that the COVID-19 danger is not yet over and done with.
At the time of reporting, China had recorded 82,641 cases and 3,335 deaths, with 39 cases being reported on Monday, April 6, of which only one was locally transmitted. Epidemiologists in the country warn that premature gatherings of this scale may cause a third wave of the disease to spread, soon after the second wave of imported cases begin to taper off.
The government’s stance on lifting the lockdown has also been tentative. While industry has been given the green light to resume operations, restrictions remain in place. In Shanghai, Jinzhou, and Sichuan, indoor tourist attractions and businesses, such as restaurants, bars, movie theatres, and general entertainment venues were all forced to shut down operations again, despite having only recently re-opened.
Even as cases of the novel coronavirus in China continue to fall, experts say it is the presence of asymptomatic carriers in the crowds that could give rise to more infections.
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