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China Daily Global / 2021-01 / 11 / Page004

Workers urged not to travel during Spring Festival to stop virus spread

By ZHANG YI in Beijing, MA ZHENHUAN in Hangzhou,MA ZHENHUAN and QIU QUANLIN in Guangzhou | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-01-11 00:00

Favorable policies have been rolled out to encourage employees to stay in the city they work in for the Spring Festival holiday, in a bid to avoid the travel rush and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Some cities are also encouraging employees to continue working through the holiday from Feb 11 to 17 and avoid traveling to their hometowns to help their enterprises meet production targets.

The incentives include overtime pay and subsidies for the remaining employees who work during the holiday, free food and accommodation, free tickets to local scenic spots and holidays arranged for another time of year.

During the annual Spring Festival travel rush, which begins on Jan 28 and ends on March 8, the country sees the world's largest human migration as people travel to their hometowns for family reunions.

China's railways are expected to transport 407 million passengers during the period this year. However, people are starting to reconsider their travel plans because of recent coronavirus cases.

Hebei province said on Sunday it has nearly 400 COVID-19 patients and asymptomatic carriers. Many local governments issued notices in the past week, calling on people not to make "unnecessary" trips to their hometowns to prevent the spread of the virus.

Some cities have advocated family reunion dinners of less than 10 people and urged greetings to be sent online or via telephone calls. Workers in the cold-chain imported food industry, where there have been a number of infections, have been encouraged to report their plans in advance.

Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission, said at a news conference on Saturday that people are advised to stay in their city of work and reduce travel for the holiday as precautionary measures against spreading the virus.

He also encouraged staggered travel periods and said people should shop online if possible.

Public events such as conferences should limit the number of participants, while large holiday gatherings such as scenic tours should limit and control the flow of people, he added.

Working overtime

Zhejiang province issued a notice on Thursday, encouraging cities and companies to guide employees to stay at work during the holiday to stabilize production and help improve the economy this year.

Companies can offer subsidies, improve dining conditions and arrange short cultural tours to encourage nonlocal employees to stay in the cities they work in.

It also urged companies with large orders to increase production in the first quarter, so employees have enough work during the holidays.

Han Jilin is the production manager of Ningbo Xiasha Precision Manufacturing Co, a gear manufacturer in Zhejiang. He decided to stay in Ningbo for Spring Festival as this year's number of orders is higher than last year.

"A series of welfare and stimulus policies provided by our company also compelled me to stay," said Han, who is from Yanbian, Jilin province.

He originally planned to go back to his hometown to visit his parents during the holiday, but the shortage of staff and uncertainty about epidemic prevention made him cancel his travel plans.

The company, located in Ningbo's Zhenhai district, has more than 800 employees, including 560 from outside the city. As of Sunday, nearly 500 employees had decided to stay in Ningbo over the Spring Festival holiday.

"Each employee who chooses to stay for the holiday will be provided with a subsidy of 1,000 yuan ($154)," said company general manager Xia Ting, who added that returning home after the travel rush was also encouraged and the enterprise would pay for their travel costs.

There are many companies offering similar policies. Ningbo's economic and information technology bureau said as many companies in the city had large numbers of foreign trade orders to fill, a shutdown during Spring Festival would cause huge revenue losses.

"Measures to encourage workers to stay in the factory during Spring Festival are aimed at maintaining production capacity after the holiday," said Wu Huaquan, director of the human resource department of Dongguan Sumida (Taiping) Electric Co, Guangdong province.

Sales of the Dongguan-based company-invested in by the Sumida Group, a global manufacturer of high quality inductive components and modules-rebounded strongly in the second half of last year, according to Wu.

Workers staying in Dongguan during Spring Festival will each be awarded 900 yuan in subsidies, with an additional 100 yuan per day for working over the holiday, Wu said.

Nearly 30 percent of the company's workers will return to their hometowns for family reunions during the holiday, according to the company.

"Encouraging workers to stay in Dongguan will help reduce passenger flows during the holiday, which is of great importance to preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic," Wu said.

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