As the past home to China's emperors, it is enclosed by 3.5km of citadel walls at the very heart of Beijing. Forbidden City is China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings and it normally welcomes 16 million visitors each year. Built between 1406 and 1420 by the Ming emperor Yongle, it was the reclusive home to two dynasties of imperial rule, who shared over 900 buildings with a retinue of eunuchs, servants and concubines until the Republic overthrew the last Qing emperor in 1911.
Forbidden City is allowing just 5000 visitors to enter daily, down from 80,000, and it opened in advance of the five-day May holiday in China. Visitors have to make reservations online and wear face masks and they are escorted by police along designated routes. Large-scale group activities remain on hold and all slots for the holiday period quickly sold out. As with other areas, rules maintaining social distancing and temperature checks remain in effect at the old imperial palace.
The year 2020 marks the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City, and the palace had originally intended to celebrate by ensuring more of the complex is open for visitors than at any other time in its history. Elsewhere in Beijing, the city's parks are also adopting new precautionary measures. The city has downgraded its emergency response level from first to second tier, allowing most domestic travellers arriving in the city to do so without having to undergo 14 days quarantine.