Companies and local governments are offering workers and urban residents financial incentives to stay at home ahead of China’s New Year celebrations next month.
Cash bonuses, shopping vouchers, movie tickets, free entry to local attractions, and even food and decorations are among the incentives being offered to deter Chinese people from the customary mass migration that occurs every year at this time as they travel to be reunited with families.
Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China. The 16-day celebration – which culminates in the main event on February 12 this year – usually includes reunions with loved ones and trips to locations that usually attract large crowds.
Chinese transport authorities estimate that 300 million rail trips alone will be made across the country during the celebrations this year. Last year’s lockdowns and government travel bans saw a drop of 50.3% to 1.47 billion journeys – including air, train and bus travel – from the previous year.
With China battling to contain a spike in coronavirus cases that sent 11 million people in Heibei province into lockdown last week and saw the northeastern province of Heilongjiang on the Russian border declare a state of emergency, officials are calling for the country to proceed cautiously with celebrations.
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