Covid-19 prompts a new trend for Spring Festival

Spring Festival travel rush Source: China Daily

The Spring Festival holiday, which falls on Feb 12th this year, is China’s most important holiday for family reunions. People usually gather to celebrate the week-long festival.

To curb the spread of coronavirus during the festive season, China has issued a plan to reduce mass gatherings and strengthen outbreak control with measures such as promoting off-peak travel and encouraging people to stay put during the holiday.

Based on this, the State Council announced on 20 January stricter anti-epidemic measures ahead of Spring Festival. From Jan 28th to March 15th, travelers from domestic low-risk areas must provide negative nucleic acid results within seven days to return home. Some provinces also introduced a policy of mandatory 14-day health monitoring and two separate nucleic acid tests on the 7th and 14th day for those from domestic medium and high-risk and lockdown areas.

Data from the National Railway Operator showed that the number of railway passenger trips has taken a nosedive in the first three days of the Spring Festival travel season amid stringent epidemic control measures. These also brought economic shock during festival season.

“These measures definitely have detrimental impacts on long-haul tourism, transportation, accommodation and catering sectors, especially for provinces with population outflows because Spring Festival has always been a key period to stimulate consumption and boost the economy”, said Shijun Zhao, an economics professor at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics.

Some traditional Chinese New Year offline consumption may be under pressure as many cities have indicated that, in principle, they will not hold or will reduce the number of large gatherings. Some cities have also imposed restrictions on various attractions, restaurants, theatres and other offline consumption scenarios.

Laterns are displayed to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year Source: China News Service

As many cities have indicated that in principle large-scale gatherings will be banned or reduced, besides, they have also imposed restrictions on various attractions, restaurants, and theaters. Thus, many traditional offline consumption may be under pressure during the Spring Festival.

Every coin has its two sides. Celebrating in place could boost production and accelerate the process of resuming work and production, with potential increase of workers during holidays and extension of effective working hours. Moreover, this new way for Spring Festival may have a more significant impact on the consumer side.

Tong Wu, a secondary school teacher staying put during Lunar New Year, says: “Though I can’t return home, I still do some preparation in advance, purchasing food, new clothes, house decorations and gifts for relatives and friends online.” With a large number of citizens choosing to spend their holidays locally, consumer demand will increase in these areas thus stimulating market dynamics. In addition, under the policy of lockdown or stay-at-home, residents are more likely to shop online, which will boost demand for e-commerce, online entertainment and other home consumption patterns.

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