The lockdown that served as a model for countries battling the coronavirus around the world has ended after 11 weeks: Chinese authorities are allowing residents of Wuhan to once again travel in and out of the sprawling city where the pandemic began, the AP reports. As of just after midnight Wednesday, the city's 11 million residents are now permitted to leave without special authorization as long as a mandatory smartphone application powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus. During the 76-day lockdown, Wuhan residents had been allowed out of their homes only to buy food or attend to other tasks deemed absolutely necessary.
The occasion was marked with a light show on either side of the Yangtze river. Along the embankments and bridges, citizens waved flags and chanted "Wuhan, let’s go!” It didn't take long for traffic to begin moving swiftly through the newly reopened bridges, tunnels, and highway toll booths, while hundreds waited for the first trains and flights out of the city, many hoping to return to jobs elsewhere. Restrictions in the city, where most of China's COVID-19 infections and deaths were recorded, were gradually relaxed in recent weeks as the number of new cases steadily declined. While there are questions about the veracity of China's count, the unprecedented lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding province of Hubei appeared successful enough that countries around the world adopted similar measures.
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