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First day of Spring Festival travel rush sees less travelers, more anti-virus caution
Published: Jan 28, 2021 08:18 PM

Fewer passengers are spotted at the Beijing West Railway Station on Thursday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Thursday is the first day of chunyun, or the Spring Festival travel rush, which is often described as the "world's largest annual human migration." But this year, the usual crowded scenes in railway stations and airports are missing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

China has been advising people to stay where they are during this upcoming Spring Festival to minimize the risk of virus spread. According to the Chinese Ministry of Transport on Thursday, China's 2021 Spring Festival travel rush is estimated to see around 1.152 billion trips, around 60 percent lower than that of 2019 and 20 percent lower than that of 2020. The previous estimate released on January 20 was 1.7 billion trips. 

An employee at the Beijing West Railway Station told the Global Times that on the first day of the Spring Festival travel rush, 25,000 people were expected to depart from the station, an 87.2 percent year-on-year drop.

Though the number of travelers has declined, there is no letup in strict enforcement of virus-prevention measures in the station. The employee said that every traveler needs to go through a temperature check before entering the station. They need to stand 1 meter apart in the line. Some chairs are removed from the waiting room so that passengers could sit at a distance from one another. The station is sterilized every four hours.

The few lucky ones who could return home, bringing the iconic Beijing traditional dim sums and vacuum-packed Peking duck, were also taking full precaution. Some were wearing protective suits, and some had covered their luggage with plastic bags.

"I am very excited to be able to go home," a passenger returning to his home in Southwest China's Sichuan Province told the Global Times on Thursday at the Beijing West Railway Station. "I have taken the nucleic acid test. When I arrive at my hometown, I will stay away from my children for self-quarantine for a few days for safety."

"Even though I'm going home, I will stay at home as much as possible instead of gathering with others outside," a mother taking her child home said at the station.

An employee sprays disinfectant at the Beijing West Railway Station. Photo: Li Hao/GT 

 

An employee at the Beijing West Railway Station distributes ox-themed plushies on Thursday. Photo: Li Hao/GT



 

Employees stick markers on the floor to remind passengers to keep distance at the Beijing West Railway Station on Thursday. Photo: Li Hao/ GT



 

The Shanghai Hongqiao Airport is almost empty on Thursday. Photo: Chen Xia/GT



 

The picture shows a computer connected to infrared thermometer at the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. Photo: Chen Xia/GT



 

Passengers at the Beijing West Railway Station. Photo: Li Hao/GT






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