Visitors wearing face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as China’s most prominent theme park reopened on Monday in a new step towards rolling back coronavirus controls that shut down the country’s economy.

The park, which closed on January 25, will limit visitor numbers and is keeping some attractions closed in line with social distancing guidelines, company executives said.

The reopening adds to efforts by companies and the ruling Communist Party to revive the world’s second-largest economy following a shutdown that triggered its worst slump since at least the 1960s.

“We hope that today’s reopening serves as a beacon of light across the globe, providing hope and inspiration to everyone,” the president of Shanghai Disney Resort, Joe Schott, told reporters.

China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first economy to shut down and the first to reopen after the ruling party declared the disease under control in early March.

Factories and shops have reopened but cinemas, karaoke parlours, gyms and other businesses are still closed.

Disney guests, many wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and children dressed as movie characters were checked for the virus’s telltale fever at the gate as the company’s signature tune, When You Wish Upon a Star, played over loudspeakers.

Decals on sidewalks and at lines for attractions show visitors where to stand to keep a safe distance. The company said rides would be limited to one group of visitors per car to keep strangers separated.

Visitors are required to make advance reservations, show government-issued identification and download a smartphone app issued by the Shanghai city government that tracks their health and their contacts with anyone who might have been exposed to the virus.

That allows the company to “understand and regulate the flow of traffic”, said Andrew Bolstein, the park’s senior vice president for operations.

Activities including children’s play areas and indoor theatre shows are closed in line with government restrictions, Mr Bolstein said.

“We hope to bring them back some time soon,” he said.

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