Chunyun (Chinese New Year migration) to fall due to COVID-19

A growing number of local governments in China have released travel guidelines advising people not to return to their hometowns prior to or during Chinese New Year. This will reduce the volume of Chinese New Year travel, known as “chunyun” 春运, literally Spring Movement.

The holiday results in the largest annual human migration as people return to their hometowns to celebrate the festival and go travelling. “Chunyun” refers to the mass travel rush in the 40 days surrounding the festival and will take place between January 28 and March 8 this year.

Previously, it was expected that there would be 10.8 million daily trips during the period, culminating in a total of 407 million journeys. However, a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in northern China means that the figures will be lower than predicted.

Despite the introduction of mass testing campaigns to enable travel to go ahead during this year’s festival, many authorities have advised people against travelling due to virus infection. Last week, the local governments of Beijing, Shanghai, Anhui, Fujian and Henan issued travel guidelines and more areas have joined them in the last few days.

Further COVID-19 prevention measures have also been put in place for those proceeding with their travel plans:

  • As has been standard over the last year, people need to show their health QR code to travel.
  • China has begun its vaccination programme and 14,000 Shanghai taxi drivers will receive COVID-19 vaccines from today (January 13) in preparation for the festival.
  • Beijing employees who work for seven days during the festival will earn 17 days of overtime pay.
  • Some companies have restricted their employees from travelling:
    • Liquor company Maotai will not allow employees to leave its production base in Renghuai town from January 13. Workers will also not be allowed to go to places with large groups of people, such as KTV and pubs.
    • Xiamen Baotai Biological Technology Company will offer employees 5000 RMB if they stay in Xiamen to celebrate Chinese New Year. A total of 30 million RMB will be given away to their employees.

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