Wuhan, China is best known as the ground zero of the Coronavirus outbreak, but according to a recent study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Tourism Research Center, it’s poised to be the no.1 destination Chinese citizens want to visit after the crisis is over.
This might come as a bit of a shock to some people, but to anyone who has visited Wuhan and seen it firsthand, it’s no surprise at all. As the capital of the Hubei province, Wuhan is a rapidly modernizing city that serves as a transportation hub for all of central China. Given its ideal location as a midway point between Beijing and Shanghai, its breathtaking scenery and abundant greenery (not to mention a seemingly endless number of shops and restaurants!) it’s no mystery why tourists would be eager to visit. But is it really safe?
When Wuhan first shut down last January, it was in the beginning stages of what would grow to be a global pandemic. The Chinese government had just confirmed human-to-human transmission of the virus, and at the time 17 people had died with more than 400 people infected. Life came to a grinding halt as a city of more than 11 million people was cut off from the rest of the country. Harsh restrictions – commonplace to many of us now – were imposed, as people were confined to their homes and told to avoid public gatherings.
By March, Covid-19 was wide-spread internationally, hitting the United States particularly hard. As countries around the world began to buckle down and implement harsher preventative measures, the lockdown slowly began to ease in Wuhan. Residents could leave their homes for nonessential reasons for a few hours at a time, shopping malls began to reopen, and public transportation cautiously resumed. Although social distancing and masks were still a strict requirement, life began to slowly inch towards some semblance of a return to normal.
On April 8, a day when the U.S. death toll topped 14,000, the lockdown in Wuhan was officially lifted. It seemed that for the city that was the epicenter of the virus, that the worst was finally over. Schools reopened, couples rushed to get married, and businesses began to resume normal operations. There was a brief scare in May when six new virus cases were reported, but the outbreak was rapidly brought under control as the city implemented an ambitious plan to test the city’s entire 11 million population.
By June night markets were back up and running and cinemas, parks, libraries, museums and other public places were allowed to reopen (albeit at half capacity) in July. For the rest of the world, these simple pleasures are relics of a bygone age, but for Wuhan they cemented the city’s return to a pre-Covid-19 lifestyle.
So, if you’re looking for an escape from all the restrictions that have become a defacto part of life during Covid-19, Wuhan may offer you an unexpected respite. Just ask the partygoers who attended the HOHA Water Electrical Music Festival in Wuhan – it certainly seemed like social distancing was the absolute last thing on their minds.