Forbidden City, Beijing reopened to the public on Friday 1st May after being closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Past home to China’s emperors, the Forbidden City reopening allows only 5,000 visitors daily, down from about 80,000. With so little people around, it feels like a jump in history when it used to be less crowded.
Visitors will have to book tickets in advance online, and large scale group activities remain on hold to respect sanitary measures. Face masks are compulsory when visiting the Forbidden City. This can be seen in photos on social media, visitors are also being escorted by police along designated routes.
Even if emergency response to the coronavirus has downgraded in Beijing, temperature checks and social distancing remain in force in public places.
The reopening of the Forbidden City comes with China’s five day celebration for Labor Day before the rescheduled gatherings of 22nd May of the National People’s Congress which were delayed since early March. The two-week annual meetings are mainly ceremonial dealings with political matters. In recent years the gatherings became a colourful spectacle in Beijing. It is not sure yet if the sessions will be held virtually or the delegates will be present on site.
Recent coronavirus cases
Most actual cases in China were brought from abroad or from provinces near the border with Russia. China had no new deaths for over two weeks. To date, only 599 patients remain under treatment for the virus with 1,000 more who are under medical observation because they have tested positive.
About the Palace Museum
The Forbidden City has been home to 24 emperors for nearly 500 years, from 1420 to 1912. It was Qianlong Emperor who amassed the most important collection of artwork. Following an audit in 1925, the Palace Museum had 1.17 million pieces of art, including paintings, ceramics, sculptures, among others.
Among the many artworks there are close to 50,000 paintings, 400 among which date back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). It is the largest and the rarest most valuable paintings of the Chinese history.