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The 37th annual Harbin Snow and Ice Festival continues as planned, albeit with modifications due to new outbreaks of coronavirus close.
The winter festival, which is a major event in northeast China’s Harbin City in Heilongjiang Province, has drawn travelers from all over China and the world every December and January since 1985.

The festival that was going as planned had been hailed as a mark of China’s success in containing and controlling the coronavirus. Many restrictions have been lifted across the country, and residents can travel freely within China’s borders.

The ice sculptures are seen at the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, on January 5, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

Now, however, small outbreaks in the nearby cities of Shenyang and Dalian have prompted a change in plans.

While the festival is still open and visitors can purchase tickets to tour and view the ice art works, the events and performances have been canceled. That included a planned group wedding ceremony that was supposed to take place on January 5. An organizer of the event confirmed the changes to CNN.

“All visitors must strengthen precautions, present their health codes when entering the park, measure their temperature, wear masks at all times and maintain a (safe) distance from others in the park,” read a statement shared the festival’s social network. media pages on December 29.

New Year’s Eve celebrations and a fireworks display were also suspended.

The health codes mentioned in the statement refer to the application that everyone in China should have on their phones to verify that they are COVID-19 free. The app is also used to track contacts in case someone gets sick. Restrictions for domestic travel began to be lifted in some provinces as of April 2020.

The annual festival is the world’s largest of its kind.

Every year, workers extract blocks of ice from the Songhua River, which artists use as material for their creations. There is always pressure to beat the year before, and highlights of 2021 include a “glass palace,” a fully functional 220-square-foot “ice bar,” and a scale model of China’s first airplane made entirely of snow. .

Beijing will be venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics along with the snowy northern city of Zhangjiakou, making the Chinese capital the first city to host both Winter and Summer Games.

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