This past week’s scene at the Great Wall of China would have been unimaginable just months ago.
Images of last weekend’s tourist attraction in Beijing show huge crowds crowded along the winding wall, squeezed together in close quarters and pushing through narrow doorways past each other.
Most are wearing face masks, but a number of people have pulled their masks down to their chin, including young children, and a few seem to have totally forgotten masks.
This past week was Golden Week, one of China’s busiest annual travel times, an eight-day national holiday, and a big test for the country as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the beginning of spring, China’s confirmed official virus numbers have remained low.
A few flare-ups have occurred, including a cluster in Beijing in June, but rapid lockdown measures and mass monitoring have been followed, and outbreaks have been contained within a couple of weeks.
People flocked to bus stations , airports and transit hubs to travel around the country for the holiday with close to zero local transmissions, which began on October 1.
Local authorities were competing to draw visitors, with travel coupons being provided by regional and municipal governments and tourist attractions offering free or discounted tickets.