China's watershed Covid-19 moment hailed: 'We finally got over it'
Chinese residents have had their first chance to truly escape the pandemic's shackles.
While we've all been told China has walked away from its divisive zero-Covid strategy, it was a case of 'I'll believe it when I see it' for those skeptical of Beijing's dramatic backflip.
Well the images this week are crystal clear and confirm China has well and truly said goodbye to suppressing the virus and belatedly joined the rest of the world with letting the virus rip.
Chinese state media on Saturday boasted of the dramatic upturn in travel and tourism during this year's Spring Festival and Chinese New Year.
And the photos emerging from some of China's most popular tourist spots speak for themselves.
Take Mount Tai for example. Despite freezing conditions, thousands of tourists flocked to the famous landmark in Shandong. And while many wore face masks, social distancing was a distant memory despite Covid-19 widely circulating in the community.
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One video shared to Twitter-like site Weibo shows hundreds crammed in at the peak to witness the sunrise.
"The Spring Festival hits differently after liberalisation," one overjoyed Weibo user commented.
With full preparations of governments at all levels and hard work of medical staff, big and small cities, counties and villages across China had already passed the infection peak before the Spring Festival holiday…https://t.co/bKB7Aaxar2 pic.twitter.com/utYeS5PXfJ
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 27, 2023
Nearly two years earlier, tourists at the same spot were criticised over fears such overcrowding could trigger an outbreak in a country that had managed to suppress the virus.
China 'over the pandemic'
According to the Global Times, the country has been "in the grip of a widespread Spring Festival vibe". Joyous crowds could be seen pictured gathering across all of China's major cities.
"After three years, we finally got over the epidemic," one Hebei resident told the state media outlet.
And while there had been grave fears the vulnerable in rural areas would be heavily impacted by a surge in travellers, Beijing has stressed the holidays have been "generally safe and orderly". A ramped up medical presence in rural areas continues, with medical staff on duty 24 hours where most needed.
China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism said the holiday had seen 308 million domestic trips – a 23 per cent increase on the previous year. Tourism revenue soared by 30 per cent, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Tourism during the holiday was at 88.6 per cent of 2019's Spring Festival prior to the pandemic.
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