Thousands of partygoers pack out water park in Wuhan as coronavirus lockdown is eased

City where global pandemic began now almost back to normal

Tim Wyatt
Monday 17 August 2020 20:51 BST
People watching a performance as they cool off in a swimming pool in Wuhan
People watching a performance as they cool off in a swimming pool in Wuhan (AFP via Getty Images)

Pictures of thousands of people crammed into a water park in Wuhan have sparked surprise online, as the Chinese city where the Covid-19 first emerged starts to return to normality.

The Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park was filled with partygoers over the weekend as it hosted an electronic music festival.

Images shared widely online show thousands of revellers in swimming costumes and goggles, bobbing about in inflatable rings watching DJs and performers on stage.

There appears to be little attempt at any social distancing and nobody is wearing a mask.

At one point another performer on a water jet board entertained his audience by hovering above them with sparks shooting from his back.

Although Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province was first locked down on 23 January, restrictions began to be lifted in April, while the UK and much of the rest of the world was approaching the peak of infections.

The Chinese authorities report there have been no new domestically transmitted cases of coronavirus in Hubei province since mid-May.

The water park was, however, operating at 50 per cent capacity to prevent overcrowding, local media report.

In an attempt to boost attendance, the management ran a promotion over the weekend which offered half price discounts to all female visitors.

Similarly, the provincial government has been keen to encourage its residents out of their homes in an effort to kickstart the local economy and has temporarily abolished entrance fees for 400 tourist sites across Hubei.

The images of the crowds inside the water park prompted astonishment online, where many people are still living under onerous lockdowns with strict controls on how many people can gather in one place.

Although China has seen sporadic outbreaks of the virus in recent months, these have mostly been linked to people travelling into the country while infected from overseas. Authorities have also been quick to reimpose sweeping local lockdowns on cities affected by only a handful of cases, which has appeared to be effective in preventing any domestic onward transmission.

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