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Science-based, differentiated stay-local drive underpins China's holiday travel

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-01-19 09:33

Passengers line up to enter Beijing Railway Station on Jan 17, at the start of the Spring Festival travel rush. The travel period will last for 40 days. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/chinadaily.com.cn]

As the third Spring Festival under pandemic draws near, China has pushed forward with a more scientific and differentiated "stay-local" drive, making every effort to ensure a smooth yet safe holiday that won't induce an outbreak afterwards due to the travel rush.

With the more contagious Omicron variant spreading around the world as well as in multiple locations across China, local governments are confronted with challenges during the holiday traveling season which started this week.

It is not the first time that China has suggested that people stay put for the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 1 this year. Compared with last year when the majority of the public hovered between stay and travel, pondering if they should sacrifice their precious family reunions for the greater good, they're now able to choose in a more rational and reasonable way as the government has proposed detailed travel guidelines based on a more accurate judgment of the current situation.

China's stay-local advice, under the nation's "dynamic zero-case policy" that strives to nip any resurgences in the bud, aims at minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on people's productive activities and everyday life.

Some foreign virologists regard China's strategy as extreme and unsustainable, and believe it will bring "disastrous consequences" by devastating society and economy.

While every anti-epidemic strategy is dynamic and in no way impervious to change, China's people-centered approach has proved to be the most suitable containment measure for the world's most populous country for the time being.

Under this strategy, local authorities are able to propose science-based, differentiated stay-local guidelines for residents to refer to before they make travel decisions.

The stay-local advice itself also shows full respect for an individual's right to make choices. Many Chinese disease control experts have suggested that differentiated strategies should be adopted in areas with different COVID-19 risk levels accordingly.

Scientific policies cannot be smoothly implemented without the support of the public. For those who choose to stay, local governments are offering them cash bonuses, shop vouchers and coupons, or free entry to tourist attractions, to make up for their being not able to reunite with families and to guarantee them an enjoyable holiday.

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