Kids playing, couples embracing, people shopping, passengers boarding trains, and pilots taking to the skies – what was once a reality now feels like a distant dream as we continue to remain in lockdown. And in complete contrast is Wuhan, the original epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, where a whopping 11 million people came out of lockdown after 76 whole days on Wednesday, April 8.
The photos emerging out of this Chinese city feel both emotional and frenzied as they depict family members reuniting, people desperately rushing back to their hometowns, and others just excited about the humdrum of everyday life. Yet there’s something unnerving about certain aspects of the images. Practically everyone still dons a face mask and protective gloves are worn by many, indicating that fear of a second outbreak lingers silently in the air. Residents have to stop at checkpoints where their temperature is taken before entering public spaces such as supermarkets and subway stations, and a health code system that classifies people based on risk factors – such as contact with an infected person – is in place.
“Lifting the lockdown does not mean we’re getting rid of disease prevention measures,” said Hu Shuguang, Deputy Head of Epidemic Prevention and Control Bureau, at a press conference addressing the end of the lockdown. “Opening up the doors of the city certainly does not mean opening up the doors of your homes.” Yesterday, Savoir Flair took you on a visual journey through the once bustling cities that are now deserted. Today, we’re virtually visiting the crowded streets of Wuhan, which begs the question: is this a preview of what’s to come?