Chinese told not to move during Lunar New Year over Covid fears

Notice from top authorities in Beijing says citizens should avoid movement as they celebrate the Chinese New Year, usually a 2-4 week break

Chinese told not to move during Lunar New Year over Covid fears
China wants its citizens to celebrate the New Year without travel or gatherings that could revive the spread of Covid. Image: Reuters

(ATF) Chinese authorities have instructed most citizens to avoid travel as the country's new year celebrations get underway, in a bid to stop renewed spread of Covid-19. The holiday is due to start on Friday February 12.

In a broadcast on CCTV News, the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council recently issued a notice.

It requires that people be guided "in a reasonable and orderly manner" to celebrate the New Year "on the spot." Basically, citizens will not be allowed to move around.

There are an estimated 277 million migrant workers, who under this ruling will need to stay at their place of work during the holidays.

Similarly, urban dwellers will not be allowed to go anywhere either, such as on holiday. It is thought mass migration could spread Covid-19 far and wide, and deep into rural areas.

Those who need to travel under special circumstances must obtain approval from the local epidemic prevention and control agency. 

In low-risk areas, people are encouraged to celebrate New Year on the spot and not travel unless necessary. The personnel of government agencies, institutions and state-owned enterprises should take the lead in celebrating the New Year on the spot, and guide migrant workers from other places and teachers and students who have not yet left school to celebrate the New Year should also stay on the spot. 

Those who really need to travel should not go to medium- and high-risk areas. It is necessary to effectively strengthen the materials and energy supply, especially in large and medium-sized cities, to arrange in advance and make full preparations to ensure that the daily necessities are kept available and shops not out of stock, the notice said.

There was a need to do a good job in the management and service of the masses in the New Year, and respond to the needs of the masses, it added – to ensure the smooth flow of freight and goods, to meet the shopping, leisure, entertainment and other travel needs of the local Chinese New Year celebrations to the greatest extent. They also needed to protect the rights and interests of the people where they are, and benefits such as wages and holidays, to stay on the job, stay on salary, to actively create a good atmosphere for the New Year, the notice said.

As the holiday presents usually the only chance for migrant workers to go home, there may be some resistance to this order.


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