Wuhan Zoo reopens to public for first time since outbreak

Visitors enjoy pandas at the Wuhan Zoo in Wuhan, Hubei province, on April 22, 2020 after it had been closed for three months. [Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

After three months of lockdown, Pangniu and Chunqiao, two giant pandas at Wuhan Zoo, welcomed new visitors on Wednesday.

The zoo was closed on Jan 22, a day before Wuhan was put under lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. It reopened to the public at 8 am on Wednesday now that the epidemic is under control in the city, where 97 patients remained hospitalized on Tuesday.

Tu Yeqian, an employee at the zoo, said all visitors are required to present their "green code", an indication they are symptom-free, before entering the zoo.

Staff will also take visitors' temperatures at the front gate, and visitors are encouraged to keep a proper distance from each other, she said.

The zoo also launched online booking methods to avoid large gatherings of people at ticket booths, she said.

Zhang Zhiyin, a nurse at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, came to the zoo with her 4-year-old son, who had long been asking to go there.

"Today is my day off, and the zoo offers all medical workers free tickets," she said.

Wearing a head cover and two masks, and ensuring that her son was wearing a mask as well, Zhang, who had been treating COVID-19 patients until recently, said she would not let her guard down while enjoying the beautiful spring scenery at the zoo.

Her son, Zhang Jinmu, who had been to the zoo many times before the outbreak, said he really missed his animal friends.

"Going out is much better than staying at home all the time," he said.

Ma Yong, a pediatrician at a hospital in Wuhan, and his wife, also a doctor, brought their 2-year-old son to the zoo.

"It's the first time our son has gone out since the start of the outbreak, and we thought going to the zoo would be a special spring outing," Ma said.

"The zoo's opening symbolizes that the city is recovering at a faster pace, and we are confident Wuhan will emerge stronger from the epidemic," he said.

The zoo welcomed 1,030 visitors on Wednesday, significantly lower than more than 20,000 during the same period last year.

Separately, all remaining bus and subway routes in Wuhan resumed operation on Wednesday. Some routes had opened late last month.

Further, taxi operations resumed on April 8, and the city will allow online ride-hailing services to resume on April 30, the Wuhan Bureau of Transport said on Tuesday.

Passengers are required to wear masks and scan their health codes while taking public transportation in order to reduce the risk of infection, it said.

The total number of city passenger trips taken via public transportation, including buses, subway, taxi and ferry, amounted to more than 13.2 million from April 8 to 20, with daily passenger trips reaching more than 1 million, the bureau said.