People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

Yes, but: Many countries are beginning to realize reopening businesses and returning to daily public life will be anything but normal. The population's trauma and economic hardships "could linger for decades," the Times notes.

The big picture: Restrictive rules are still in place within Wuhan to stop the virus from re-emerging. Schools are still closed and travel limitations still exist on some individuals and businesses. Public transportation has restarted, but the general population thus far has not been using it in large numbers, per the Times.

  • People can leave Wuhan as long as a government-sanctioned phone app affirms they are not a contagion risk.
  • Families have started to increasingly venture outside in public spaces. Shops have begun to reopen with walk-up counters to buy groceries and other goods without entering the store.

The bottom line, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: The Chinese government has faced growing doubts about the veracity of its coronavirus statistics, especially the total number of deaths in Wuhan, but it's clear that authorities would not reopen the city if they did not believe that the situation there was now under control.

Go deeper... Timeline: The early days of China's coronavirus outbreak

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