Seven provinces, municipalities in China encourage residents to ‘stay put’ during Spring Festival holidays
Published: Jan 10, 2022 08:29 PM

Passengers disembark at Nanjing Railway Station in Nanjing, Capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, on January 3, 2022, the last day of China's New Year's Day holiday. Photo: IC

Passengers disembark at Nanjing Railway Station in Nanjing, Capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, on January 3, 2022, the last day of China's New Year's Day holiday. Photo: IC

As the Spring Festival approaches, at least seven provinces and municipalities across China have issued notices to encourage local residents to avoid travel and stay put during the holidays by Monday as the annual Spring Festival travel rush is the world's largest human migration, which could increase risks of accelerating the virus transmission. 

This comes as several cities have seen resurgences of the COVID-19 outbreak. Surging cases in places like Central China's Henan and Northwest China's Shaanxi and the first scale battle against Omicron in North China's Tianjin pose increasing uncertainties for overall anti-epidemic work. 

The seven places, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Central China's Henan, East China's Zhejiang provinces and South China's Guangxi Zhuang, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous regions. 

The Beijing government issued a notice on Thursday encouraging citizens to stay put during the upcoming Spring Festival. All residents are required to cancel nonessential trips and not to leave the city unless necessary.

In view of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games and the domestic epidemic as well as epidemic overseas, the Beijing Center for Disease Control is encouraging local residents to stay put and reduce nonessential traveling in order to guarantee the health and safety of all residents during the holiday, according media reports on Monday. 

Earlier, North China's Tianjin Municipality, a major gateway to the capital Beijing, asked its residents "not to leave unless necessary," especially for people from affected areas. On this basis, people from non-epidemic-affected areas are encouraged to stay put during the upcoming Spring Festival in Tianjin.

The city reported 31 confirmed cases and 10 silent carriers on Monday afternoon. Experts noted that the situation in Tianjin is "worrisome" as the source of the sudden Omicron-fueled outbreak is yet to be uncovered, media reported.

Some cities said they will offer subsidies to those who are willing to stay put during the holidays ranging from 500 yuan ($78) to 1,000 yuan ($156). 

Hefei, the city in East China's Anhui province, announced on Sunday that it will give 1,000 yuan to eligible non-local residents working in the city to encourage them to stay. Enterprises in Ningbo, the city in East China's Zhejiang province, are encouraged to take measures such as granting subsidies, ensuring accommodation, and improving the dining environment during the Spring Festival to increase the enthusiasm of non-local employees to stick to their posts during the Spring Festival.

Amid the pandemic, policies for returning home vary from place to place. South China's Hunan Province requires people returning from outside the province to provide a nucleic acid testing result within 48-hour and self-health monitoring records in the past 14 days if they're coming from high-risk areas.

Chinese top respiratory diseases expert Zhong Nanshan said earlier that people in areas without containment, or low-risk areas, can return home for Spring Festival without a complete shutdown.

Liang Wannian, head of the expert panel of COVID-19 response of China's National Health Commission, also said in media interview that the decisions on whether to stay put for the Spring Festival should be made based on local conditions rather than adopt a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

Global Times