Tibetans Cautious as Virus Restrictions Ease in Some Areas

tibet-lhasa.jpg Tourists at the Potala Temple in the Tibet Autonomous Region capital Lhasa, in file photo.

A lift of restrictions blocking the spread of COVID-19 in Tibetan areas of China is bringing more people out into the streets, but is raising concerns that the worst of the pandemic may not yet be over, Tibetan sources say.

In Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa, the city’s Buddhist Association announced on March 30 that 214 monasteries, temples, and other places of worship in areas outside the city will now reopen, though visitors will be required to wear face masks and have their temperature checked at the gate, according to a report by Tibet’s official Tibet Daily newspaper.

Major religious sites in and near Lhasa including the central Jokhang temple and the Drepung, Sera, Ganden, and Tsurphu monasteries remain closed, however, the Tibet Daily report said.

Meanwhile, schools, restaurants, and shops have begun to reopen in Lhasa, sources in the city said, following what officials have called a successful containment and control of the spread of the virus in the area.

“However, as the markets are opening and business is returning to normal, more mainland Chinese business and construction workers are returning to Tibet,” one city resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“In such a situation, Tibetans in Lhasa are still wary of the possibility of a resurgence of the coronavirus from the influx of Chinese visitors in Lhasa, and they are not letting their guard down,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They are still staying home, and are reluctant to come out,” he said.

In the Kyegudo (in Chinese, Yushu) area of western China’s Qinghai province, Tibetans have meanwhile begun again to venture outside, one local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The schools, shops, hotels, and restaurants in my region have started to reopen, and people are starting to return to their normal lives,” RFA’s source said.

“But on March 24, the Chinese government officially reopened Wuhan, the region where the coronavirus first broke out, and people from that area have started to move in and out.”

“Now we are more worried than ever about the spread of the virus,” he said.

“We must not think that the spread of this epidemic is slowing down and that it’s under control,” a third source in Tibet said, speaking to RFA.

“We must take full precautions, and I ask all Tibetans around the world who are listening to Radio Free Asia to please take care of themselves,” he said.

Reported by Yangdon Demo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi and Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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