Relatively fresh air is returning to Beijing, thanks to some chilly winds. For much of the past week the Chinese capital has been smothered in a fog so thick that it’s cut visibility in some cases to just 50 meters (55 yards). Authorities issued the city’s first-ever red alert for fog on Jan. 3-4.
That wasn’t the worst part. The fog conspired with dangerous levels of smog. From Dec. 30 to Jan. 7, the city issued its second-highest orange alert for air pollution.
Other parts of northern and eastern China were also affected, with dozens of cities issuing strong alerts for air pollution. Even neighbors of mainland China—including Seoul, Taipei, and Hong Kong—have suffered from the bad air.
Below, some before-and-after photos of Beijing:
Now, with the city’s pollution levels finally coming down to a moderate level, people are seizing the chance to take a deep breath.