China’s ‘zero-COVID’ restrictions curb May Day holiday travel

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A security guard wearing a face mask takes the temperature of visitors as they enter a public park in Beijing, Saturday, April 30, 2022, the first day of China's Labor Day holiday period.  (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

A security guard wearing a face mask takes the temperature of visitors as they enter a public park in Beijing, Saturday, April 30, 2022, the first day of China’s Labor Day holiday period. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

PA

Many Chinese are celebrating a quiet May Day holiday this year as the government’s “zero-COVID” approach restricts travel and enforces lockdowns in several cities.

All restaurants in Beijing are closed to customers from Sunday until the end of the holiday on Wednesday, only open for takeout and delivery. Parks and tourist attractions in the Chinese capital are limited to half their capacity. The Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, which opened last year, said it had temporarily closed.

The pandemic situation varies across the vast country of 1.4 billion people, but the Department for Transport said last week it expected 100 million journeys to be made from Saturday to Wednesday, which would be down 60% from last year. Many who travel stay within their province as local governments discourage or restrict cross-border travel to try to prevent further infections.

China is sticking to a strict ‘zero-COVID’ policy even as many other countries ease restrictions and see if they can live with the virus. Much of Shanghai – China’s largest city and a financial, manufacturing and shipping hub – remains closed, disrupting people’s lives and dealing a blow to the economy.

The major outbreak in Shanghai, where the death toll has topped 400, appears to be easing. The city recorded about 7,200 new locally transmitted cases on Saturday, up from a peak of 27,605 on April 13. Outside of Shanghai, only 364 new cases have been discovered in the rest of mainland China.

Beijing, which has tallied around 300 cases in the past nine days, is restricting its activities in an attempt to prevent a large outbreak and avoid a citywide lockdown similar to Shanghai. Individual buildings and housing complexes with coronavirus cases have been cordoned off. Visitors to many office buildings and tourist sites such as the Great Wall must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 48 hours.

Online booking agency Ctrip said last week that people were booking trips to cities that were mostly virus-free, such as Chengdu in Sichuan province and nearby Chongqing. Other popular destinations include Wuhan, where the world’s first major COVID-19 outbreak occurred in early 2020. About half of orders on the Ctrip platform were for trips within a province.

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