(NEW YORK POST) – About 20,000 sightseers flocked to a popular mountain range in China over the weekend — forcing authorities to shut it down — as the country loosened its coronavirus restrictions.
Photos and videos circulating on the Weibo social media platform show packs of mask-wearing visitors crowding pathways and jostling for space at the Huangshan, or Yellow, Mountains in Anhui province Saturday and Sunday.
They had gathered for the traditional Ching Ming festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, according to the South China Morning Post.
Beginning Saturday, the Anhui provincial government had been offering free entry to 29 sites, including Huanghsan, to encourage tourism, the outlet reported.
Visitors were required to show their health status on an app, get their temperatures checked prior to entry and wear surgical masks.
By Sunday, park authorities said they were forced to shutter the popular destination as the number of visitors surged to its daily limit of 20,000.
Anhui, which shares its western border with Hubei province — the initial epicenter of the deadly bug — last reported a new coronavirus case on Feb. 27, according to official figures cited by the outlet.
In total, 990 cases, including six deaths, have been reported in the province.
By Monday morning, China had reported 82,665 coronavirus cases and 3,212 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US, Spain, Italy, Germany and France each have now tallied more cases than China.
“I think China is keeping a close eye on COVID-19 detections and may need to tune the social distancing measures that are needed to keep COVID-19 contained,” Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Hong Kong University, told the outlet. “For now, it may be OK to relax some measures, but those measures should be tightened if case numbers pick up.”