BEIJING — Chinese authorities on Wednesday ended the monthslong lockdown of Wuhan, the first city ravaged by the novel coronavirus pandemic, allowing all citizens to freely move in and out of the isolated metropolis.
China cut off all access to Wuhan on Jan. 23, shutting down connections to other cities via air travel, high-speed rail and expressways. Subways, buses and other forms of public transport inside the city halted operations.
The drastic measures were taken to prevent any of Wuhan’s 11 million residents from traveling to other cities. Of the 3,331 confirmed coronavirus deaths in China, nearly 80% lived in Wuhan. The number of symptomatic patients exceeded 50,000.
The city eventually reported no new COVID-19 cases for an extended number of days, due partly to the shelter-in-place order and the construction of dedicated hospitals. In late March, travel into Wuhan by high-speed rail or highways was allowed. Public transportation in the city gradually restarted. Nearly all restrictions on outbound travel will be lifted Wednesday.
One exception will be travel from Wuhan to Beijing. Direct flights between the two cities will remain suspended. Those who enter Beijing from Wuhan reportedly will be asked to quarantine for two weeks. These measures apparently are in consideration of the annual National People’s Congress, as the opening of China’s legislature has been postponed from its usual early March date.