The Labour Day holiday in mainland China has been extended to five days. While the Labour Day is traditionally a peak season for consumer activities, the pandemic is making it difficult for this year's holiday to be accompanied by scenes of teeming tourist attractions and shopping malls like before. Even though airfares have been slashed, they have failed to boost air passenger numbers, as tourists prefer to travel in a way and in locations free from the crowds.
During the Labour Day holiday in 2019, the number of domestic visitors was 195 million, generating a revenue of 117.67 billion yuan for the tourist industry. It was an occasion on which everyone was pleased, as people could take a break from the intense pressure of work, businesses could profit from the sales of products and provision of services, and the government could increase revenues through taxes. But all good things come to an end, as there has been a pandemic this year. Though it is basically under control with just a handful of new cases every day, the pandemic has not stopped spreading outside China. Try as one might to guard against the virus, the possibility of a second outbreak or a rebound cannot be ruled out. Therefore no one dares lower their guard.
When the virus was developing rapidly, the mainland authorities' way of tackling it mainly included stringent measures stipulated by the government to which citizens were required to adhere strictly. Things have developed to such a stage that the government has to keep on preventing the virus from spreading but at the same time it has to stimulate spending. The public, still haunted by the dreadful experience, remain cautious. But there are people who feel an urge to go outside and spend money having been in home quarantine for too long. Some are encouraged to do so by vouchers from the government and businesses. The reopening of the economy is being carried out in phases under the leadership of the government.
On the one hand, the government is continuing the policy of free passage on highways and has demanded that operators of tourist attractions sell tickets at a discount. But it requires them to limit attendance at 30% of capacity. Visitors are also required to register with their real names beforehand. Some requirements are even more stringent. The Forbidden City, for example, has a capacity of 80,000 people, but now it has a daily quota of 5,000 visitors only. There are also temporary measures that vary according to the situation. West Lake in Hangzhou, for example, imposes temporary crowd control measures at the entrance after tourists have exceeded a certain number at the Broken Bridge. In every region, tourists are asked to produce their health certificates and have their temperatures taken. There are also strict requirements for the number of times attractions must be disinfected.
True, it is impossible to compare the merits and demerits of the different approaches taken by different countries simplistically. The human race is battling a previously unseen virus, which is one we do not know enough about, and vaccines, our best weapon, are not available yet. It is inevitable that different countries have adopted different approaches. But it must be understood that it is impossible to act alone or stay away from the virus. No matter whether it is the transmission of the virus or economic recovery, the effectiveness of a country's response can affect all other countries in the world. If one acts arbitrarily, one will have to be held accountable to not only one's citizens but also the international community.