Chinese officials wary of the risk of the deadly coronavirus spreading when crowds gather have hacked down the branches of peach trees in full bloom in a bid to deter seasonal tourists.
The town of Jiufeng, which is in Lechang City in China’s southern Guangdong Province, attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year for its annual spring flower viewing.
However, with the COVID-19 outbreak still a national as well as global health risk – more than 2,700 deaths have been recorded in mainland China alone – officials are doing everything they can to prevent members of the public from gathering in large numbers.
On 19th February, municipal authorities in Jiufeng were seen hacking down the branches of blossoming trees, especially two long rows of popular peach blossoms lining either side of a main road in the scenic area.
The move comes as other public gatherings – such as the domestic football league, weddings and even small-scale gambling events – have been banned indefinitely in order to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
A municipal official reassured the public by saying the peach blossom trees themselves remain standing, with only their blooming branches pruned to deter tourists.
The spokesman told local media: “Due to the outbreak, we’ve cancelled this year’s flower viewing.
“We’re concerned members of the public will gather and linger there.
“I hope there will be one next year.”
The Lechang Culture and Tourism Bureau reported that the pruning of blooming peach blossom branches has successfully reduced visitor numbers this season.
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