After 11 weeks of lockdown, Wuhan celebrated the end of lockdown on Wednesday with a midnight light display dedicated to frontline workers.
The Chinese megacity where the coronavirus pandemic first emerged has ended its 11-week lockdown. China sealed off Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in Hubei province, on 23 January, imposing one of the longest lockdowns in history. But after authorities reported a sustained decline in new infections, the city has eased slowly eased restrictions.
As of midnight on Wednesday, outbound travel bans were lifted. Airports, train stations and highway tolls reopened and skyscrapers and bridges across the Yangtze River illuminated with images of frontline workers as part of a city-wide social media campaign. One building lit up with the words "heroic city", while residents gathered by the river to wave flags and sing the Chinese national anthem. Many people relished the opportunity to step outside for the first time in months to stretch their legs, take in the fresh air and chat with friends and neighbours face-to-face.
But even though the lockdown has lifted, life hasn't snapped back to normal. Some restrictions are still in place. Under new regulations, only people who are healthy and can prove so are allowed to leave the city. They must use a smartphone app that will present a "green code" issued by local authorities to certify their health status. And surveillance technology will track app users to ensure they have no contact with anyone who might be infected, according to the New York Times.
Meanwhile, in Europe, where the spread of the virus has started to slow, some countries are proposing to gradually and carefully ease restrictions in accordance with guidelines from public health officials in the coming weeks.