(ATF) China is pleading with its migrant workers to stay where they are for the New Year Festival and to not travel home, in a desperate bid to halt the spread of Covid-19 across the country.
Officials announced on Wednesday that people in high-risk areas must celebrate the New Year ‘in situ’, those in medium-risk areas must celebrate ‘on the spot in principle’ and those in low-risk areas are being asked to mark the occasion ‘on the spot’.
The announcement came from the State Council’s Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism as it brought in more travel bans for the Chinese New Year holiday in February and March.
There are genuine fears that if China’s 277 million migrant workers travel home for the Lunar new year there will be a dramatic increase in the spread of Covid 19, with several new outbreaks already spreading fast as new more infectious variants infect the population.
Now 29 provinces have announced rules and plans to control the New Year celebrations with a mixture of ‘carrot and stick’ measures being used.
Zhang Ying, Director of the Employment Promotion Department of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, announced on Tuesday stable job subsidies, rental subsidies and hardship subsidies for local migrant workers in Fujian, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Tianjin and Zhejiang during the Chinese New Year.
Zhejiang, Guangdong, Anhui and some other places will also provide workers with consumer vouchers, cheap tickets to scenic spots, and arrange cultural and tourist activities. In Tianjin and Guangxi there will be ‘stable production and full production awards’ and recruitment bonuses.
In Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, it’s been proposed that employees from outside the city who work in there during the Spring Festival will be given extra social credit points.
According to information and public reports released by the human resources and social departments, at least 15 places have issued ‘big red envelopes of real money’ to migrant workers in the new year.
And the Shaanxi Federation of Trade Unions has suggested providing legal aid services, online job searches, marriage and dating help, and psychological counselling for workers in Shaanxi from outside the province.
Meanwhile, in a missive sent out by Xinhua on Wechat, it was said that “the increase in local epidemic prevention policies is rooted in the lack of responsibility of some leading cadres”.
It was also made clear yesterday that the ‘New Year's Day in situ’ cannot be changed without authorisation.
Local anti-epidemic policies have increased layer by layer and the experience of the past year shows that strict, accurate, and uncompromising implementation of centralised anti-epidemic policies is enough.
Chinese media has already carryied stories of people fired for going home early for the holiday, and the intensity of the government response is likely to heighten as the date of the holiday nears, which is similar to Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year, and most other public holidays rolled into one. Festivities usually last the full lunar month.