China imposes tougher COVID-19 restrictions as Chinese New Year travel rush kicks off

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As the Chinese New Year travel rush kicked off on Thursday (Jan 28), transport operators in China tightened measures to prevent the resurgence of Covid-19 cases and provide better service to passengers.
The Ministry of Transport further cut its forecast of passenger flow for the Chinese New Year travel season on Thursday, as the country has adopted strict anti-epidemic measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
On the first day of the Chinese New Year travel rush, the country was expected to handle 19.91 million passengers trips.
According to the ministry, about 1.15 billion passenger trips were expected to be made during the 40-day travel rush, a year-on-year decline of 20 per cent and more than 60 per cent lower than in 2019.
"The number is changing constantly," Ministry of Transport spokesman Wu Chungeng said at a news conference on Thursday.
"The daily passenger trips are growing slightly based on the data for the past three days," he said, adding that the number might be lower than expected because people were advised not to travel during the holiday.
On Thursday, the civil aviation sector expected to handle 8,850 flights and 540,000 passenger trips, a year-on-year decrease of 46.7 per cent and 71.2 per cent, respectively.
The national railway network expected to handle four million passenger trips, a drop of 66 per cent, while 37,600 passenger trips were expected to be handled at Beijing Capital International Airport and 16,000 passenger trips at Beijing Daxing International Airport.
The 40-day travel season started on Thursday and ends on March 8. It is regarded as the world's largest annual human migration.
Known as Spring Festival in China, the Chinese New Year holiday, which falls on Feb 12 this year, is China's most important holiday for family reunions. People usually gather to celebrate the week-long festival.