Masked crowds fill Wuhan's streets, trains as lockdown ends

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A worker directs travelers wearing face masks and suits to protect against the spread of new coronavirus at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday, tens of thousands people had left the city by train and plane alone, according to local media reports. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

WUHAN – Amid streets newly bustling with cars and pedestrians, Wang Chun celebrated the lifting of a virus lockdown on her hometown of Wuhan on Wednesday with a dance outdoors after 2 1/2 months largely cooped up at home.

“I’m so happy Wuhan has defeated the virus,” Wang said after recording a K-Pop-inspired duet with a male partner for posting on the internet. Neither of them wore face masks, at least for a brief few minutes.

After she put on the mask again, Wang confronted the question many of the city's 11 million residents are asking themselves: When will they be going back to work?

“That's a very good question," Wang responded with a giggle.

Wuhan ended its 76-day lockdown Wednesday morning, allowing residents to again travel in and out of the city without special authorization through the use of a mandatory smartphone app powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance showing they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.

Long lines formed at the airport and train and bus stations as thousands streamed out of the city to return to their homes and jobs elsewhere. Yellow barriers that had blocked off some streets were gone, although the gates to residential compounds remained guarded.

After more than two months indoors, Wuhan resident Tong Zhengkun was one of millions of enjoying a renewed sense of freedom.

“Being indoors for so long drove me crazy,” an emotional Tong said as he watched a celebratory midnight light display from a bridge across the broad Yangtze River flowing through the city, where the coronavirus outbreak began late last year.