The annual migration of Chinese traveling during the Lunar New Year is unlikely this year as a result of the COVID pandemic.
Facing increasing cases in Hebei and other regions, China authorities have made an emergency plan. The State Council and Ministry of Transport have set up a pandemic prevention working group that includes the railways, Civil Aviation Administration of China and the Ministry of Public Security. It will discourage travel.
Usually, about 4 billion trips take place during the period. This year the holiday will be between late January and early March.
"The prevention work for COVID-19 has become serious and complicated, in particular with recent outbreaks in some regions," said Li Xiaopeng, the transport minister and the leader of the working group. "It is necessary to reduce unnecessary journeys and reduce gatherings during the holiday."
Li added that the working group would stagger journeys, tighten up pandemic controls covering people returning from overseas and strictly regulate the import of cold-chain logistics.
Lasting longer than holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, traveling during the Lunar New Year involves "higher risks" with heavy domestic reliance on public transport, experts said.
Officials from more than 20 provinces and regions including Guangdong, Beijing and Hebei have called for residents to spend holidays where they live instead of returning to hometowns. Zhejiang officials encouraged local companies to provide employee incentives such as bonus-filled red envelopes for not traveling.
As of Jan. 10, the country saw the total number of new COVID-19 cases jump to 103, the highest since 127 cases were reported July 30, according to the National Health Commission.