China strives to ensure a safe and happy Spring Festival holiday amid COVID-19 pandemic

A community worker and a volunteer in Qinhuangdao, north China’s Hebei province, give gifts for the Spring Festival to a sanitation worker who decides not to return to her hometown during the holiday in response to China’s initiative that encourages people to stay put during the holiday to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Feb. 1, 2021. (Photo by Cao Jianxiong/People’s Daily Online)

Safety and health have become the most important keywords in China’s efforts to coordinate epidemic prevention and control measures and various public services during the upcoming Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese Lunar New Year, amid sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks and cluster infections in some areas.


This year’s Spring Festival, the grandest festival in China and the most significant occasion for family reunions, falls on Feb. 12. In an effort to make sure Chinese people enjoy the holiday while keeping them safe, the Chinese government is advancing the implementation of differentiated and precise epidemic prevention and control strategies across the country.


At present, COVID-19 risks are generally controllable in China. Thanks to prompt responses and decisive measures, the numbers of new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in areas that have reported cluster infections earlier this year have started to drop.


People’s health is regarded as the top priority of governments at various levels during the Spring Festival.


Recently, the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council of China issued a circular that requires all localities in China to do a good job in guaranteeing considerate and adequate services for the growing number of people who choose to stay where they live and work for this year’s Spring Festival for the sake of security amid the pandemic.


Local governments across the country should lose no time in making arrangements for tasks including guaranteeing a stable supply of basic necessities, convenient and smooth transportation and logistics services, as well as protection of legal rights and interests of people who stay where they work during the holiday, according to the circular.


China has granted conditional marketing authorization for its first self-developed COVID-19 vaccine, and cities across the country have used the vaccine on some key groups.


However, the epidemic situation remains grim and complex, especially when the Spring Festival travel rush has kicked off, which has certainly brought about increasing gatherings.


Against such backdrop, strict implementation of epidemic prevention and control measures is rather significant and challenging.


In order to prevent further spread of the virus, the Chinese government has requested that all residents in high-risk areas for COVID-19 shall stay at their current residing localities during the Spring Festival holiday, called on people in medium-risk areas to do the same in principle, and encouraged residents in low-risk areas to try their best to stay put for the holiday and avoid travel for the sake of security.


Employees with government organs, public institutions and state-owned enterprises have been asked to take the lead in following the policy.


Responding actively to the call of the central government, various regions in China have rolled out initiatives to encourage enterprises, institutions and individuals to properly arrange activities during the Spring Festival in a bid to reduce population flows and public gatherings to lower the risk of further spread of the virus.


China’s capital city Beijing encouraged citizens to stay in the city for the holiday; Huainan, east China’s Anhui province, issued a public letter to mobilize migrant workers to try to stay in the city during the Spring Festival; Yinchuan, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region, suggested that citizens plan their trips properly.


By taking measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic, the Chinese government aims to ensure the security of Chinese people while bringing them a sense of happiness.


Nationwide efforts to balance epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development have shown the wisdom of local governments and reflected their governance philosophies.


Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang province, has improved services to support companies in enhancing investment and securing growth while mobilizing employees to stay put during the Spring Festival holiday through heartwarming activities.


Quanzhou in southeast China’s Fujian province has provided generous gifts for migrant workers who decide to stay in the city during the Spring Festival, and offered to mail their purchases for the holiday to their homes for free.


The China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. has allowed passengers to cancel their tickets without charging fees, in a bid to encourage them to change their plan to return home for the festival.


While encouraging people to stay put during the holiday to prevent spreading the epidemic, these thoughtful measures have brought warmth to people.


By formulating epidemic prevention and control policy during the Spring Festival travel season in accordance with the law, China strives to reduce the risk of virus spread as much as possible, rather than setting up unnecessary barriers for family reunion during the Spring Festival.


Epidemic prevention and control efforts during the Spring Festival should be targeted and effective, according to relevant authorities, which criticized certain areas for adopting the “one-size-fits-all” approach in implementing relevant policy.


A spokesperson with the National Health Commission of China stressed that Chinese cities, except for Beijing, should never forbid residents from returning to their hometowns for the Spring Festival out of no good reason or keep those who get back home in quarantine.


Local governments and relevant departments of China have been asked to release information in a timely manner and roll out targeted and differentiated policies based on their actual conditions, and make full use of good practices and experience in protecting people’s livelihood while containing the epidemic last year so as to try their best to ensure normal functioning of society and guarantee another safe and happy Spring Festival holiday for the people.


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