China returned to the pre-pandemic style of travelling during its eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival break. The vacation started on October 1 and since then some half a billion people in China are on the move, this reflects the citizens' confidence in the economic rebound and public health measures.
Hotels, ride-hailing apps, and tourist spots are enjoying the sudden attention, with the hotel reservations rising as much as 20 percent as compared to the same time last year. The flight bookings has also noted a 11 percent rise year-on-year.
China lifted its ban on group travel in mid-July when every city in every district was designated ‘low-risk’. Netizens can now travel without showing a negative coronavirus test or quarantine.
However, they are still recommended to obey the local pandemic control measures such as wearing masks and maintaining a distance of 3.2 feet—which would be impossible to observe given the sheer number of people at tourist spots.
Officially, some cities require passengers to produce a green health code on their phones at airports and stations to show they are safe to travel, but its implementation seems to be lax.
While this will undoubtedly boost the economy, but there is also a risk of new cases. Other than two asymptomatic cases in late September, China hasn’t reported any local virus infections since mid-August, which is why the Chinese Center of Disease Control (CDC) believes that the environment is safe for ordinary people. “The chance of you running into an asymptomatic person is very very low, almost negligible,” said Chinese CDC. Last week, it reported the first local asymptomatic infection in over a month.
While the tourist sites have increased their capacities to 75 percent from 50 percent as compared to the previous months, the travellers are required to register online to facilitate contact tracing.
The only fresh cases in China are courtesy of international travel, and they are managed in a closed loop so they won’t have any impact on the domestic citizens, added Chinese CDC.
Keeping this in mind, the government, Chinese CDC, and the foreign ministry have urged people to avoid international travel.
The ministry of tourism in China predicts 550 million domestic trips to be made this year, 70 percent higher than in 2019.
In contrast, the global tourism industry is expected to lose at least 1.2 trillion dollars in 2020.
The September OECD forecast predicted a 1.8 percent expansion this year, placing China alone among the group of 20 on the pace to expand.
This sense of control in China is in stark contrast with the European countries that are instituting new restrictions to fight a new wave of the pandemic sparked by summer travel.
In the United States, the number of coronavirus cases topped 7.49m with President Trump testing positive over the weekend and then recovering. India has registered a decrease in total cases; but the total number of cases is still as high as 6.69m.
But tourists in China don’t seem to be worried about infections, after nine months of invariable house arrest, people are desperate to get out of their houses.
South Korea—witnessing about 100 new infections every day—is reluctant in going back to the pre-pandemic style of travelling. Instead they tightened their social distancing rules during the back-to-back holidays in late September.