People wearing protective clothing and masks arrive at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, to board one of the first trains leaving the city in China
People wearing protective clothing and masks arrive at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, to board one of the first trains leaving the city in China
AFP

Wuhan: With long lines of cars streaming through expressway toll gates and passengers boarding trains, the megacity of Wuhan in central China started lifting outbound travel restrictions from Wednesday after almost 11 weeks of lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19.

At Fuhe toll gate in northern Wuhan, cars honked horns and rushed out after barricades were removed at midnight, Xinhua news agency reported. Guo Lei, who ran a business in Wuhan, drove his car with six others aboard to the toll gate at around 8:40 p.m. (local time) and waited for a homebound trip.

"I can't wait to return to my hometown," "I have lived in Wuhan for eight years. During the Spring Festival holiday, my relatives came to the city and helped me deliver goods.

We were all stranded here due to the epidemic," said Guo, a native of east China's Shandong Province. Big data from Wuhan traffic police forecasted the expressways would see a peak of outbound vehicles on Wednesday.

As work resumption picks up steam, Wuhan has seen a daily increase of nearly 400,000 vehicles on the roads in the past half month, and the number is expected to reach 1.8 million after Wednesday, according to the city's traffic police. Traffic police will release real-time traffic information through radio stations, online social platforms, and map apps. "I'm very happy to see the lockdown was lifted.

The reopening of outbound traffic represents the epidemic situation has improved, and our hard work over the past two months has paid off," said Fang Jing, a staff member at an expressway toll station in Wuhan. "We still need to protect ourselves from the virus and remind passengers to pay attention to personal health since the epidemic is not yet over," Fang added.

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