Life after the coronavirus: Thousands flock to Wuhan pool party

Attendees needed to make an appointment on the WeChat app, to show that they are from a "low risk" area and register with Hubei's health authority.
Image: People watching a performance as they cool off in a swimming pool in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on Aug. 15, 2020
People cool off in a swimming pool in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province Saturday.AFP - Getty Images

At the start of this year, images of deserted streets in the Chinese city of Wuhan seemed remarkable to a world not yet familiar with the realities of lockdowns and social distancing.

This week, another set of photos from Wuhan went viral on social media, showing just how our world has flipped on its head.

The pictures showed the city's Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park hosting an electronic music festival Saturday. Thousands of bathers, many of them preferring inflatable rubber rings over masks, were squeezed into the water as a DJ took the poolside stage.

It would be an arresting sight in any country dominated by social distancing this year. But in Wuhan, it carried particular resonance: the first place hit by COVID-19 before the coronavirus escaped into the world, infecting almost 22 million people and killing some 775,000.

The vast majority of China's 4,634 reported coronavirus deaths have come in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. The city's 11 million people saw one of the world's strictest lockdowns, which ended in April. International governments and experts have accused Chinese officials of acting too late and even attempting to cover up aspects of the virus's early onset, something Beijing has denied.

Though there have been questions regarding the transparency and accuracy of figures out of China, there have been no recorded cases of community transmission in Wuhan since May.

The Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park is owned by Happy Valley, China’s leading theme park operator.

A performer at a pool in Wuhan on Saturday.AFP - Getty Images

To try to boost tourism, Hubei's culture and tourism department has been offering free entry to 400 sites across the province. The water park's HOHA music festival runs every night from July 11 to Aug. 30.

Attendees needed to make an appointment on the WeChat app, to show that they are from a "low risk" area and register with Hubei's health authority.