Innovative Spring Festival staycations planned
Many local governments and enterprises have introduced measures to encourage people to spend the holiday in cities and towns where they are employed.
In Yiwu, Zhejiang province, a county-level city regarded as the nation's small commodities trading hub, the local government has announced 17 policies aimed at encouraging people to spend the holiday locally.
With sporadic cases of COVID-19 reported in different areas of the country ahead of Spring Festival, people who remain in Yiwu during the holiday are each entitled to a 500 yuan ($72) Spring Festival shopping voucher.
They can also join a variety of free cultural and sports activities at public venues such as cultural centers, libraries, museums and fitness centers.
The city's hospitals and clinics will waive registration and emergency treatment fees for outpatients from Sunday to Feb 21.
Primary and secondary schools in Yiwu are arranging free winter camps for children whose parents remain in the city for the holiday, and landlords have been encouraged to reduce rents.
Numerous other local governments have announced plans to help employees who decide not to return home.
In the Xiangcheng district of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, migrant workers are each entitled to a subsidy of 500 yuan, while in the Shunde district of Foshan, Guangdong province, skilled workers can receive subsidies of 400 yuan to 1,600 yuan, based on their level of expertise, according to Guang Ming Daily.
Zhou Dewen, economist and deputy director of the China Association for Promoting Democracy's Central Economic Committee, said many enterprises are providing generous bonuses to retain employees.
"There are about 3 million nonlocal employees alone in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, and employers are willing to offer bonuses to keep staff at the end of the lunar year and in early spring, when there is traditionally a shortage of workers," Zhou Dewen said.
Chen Jianliang, chairman of Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding, said the Shanghai company would spend about 50 million yuan on subsidizing its skilled workers who remain in the city for Spring Festival.
More than 80 percent of the workers at the company, a unit of China State Shipbuilding Corp, come from outside of Shanghai, who would stay in Shanghai for the holiday.
Chen said that during the holiday, most workers are entitled to a daily allowance of 500 yuan, Lunar New Year's Eve dinner sets, special merchandise, leisure activities and healthcare necessities.
Zhao Wen, a deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "Fewer people traveling will effectively minimize the spread of COVID-19 and also help contain it when work resumes after the holiday."
Privately-owned Zhejiang Grandwall Electric Science & Technology Co has announced an incentives package for its employees who remain locally during Spring Festival, including a 500 yuan holiday subsidy and two-week compensatory vacations in their hometowns after June.
Pan Jian, executive assistant at the company, said: "About 30 percent of our staff members come from distant provinces such as Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan. For each of those from outside Zhejiang who needs to return home for Spring Festival, we are providing an allowance of 2,000 yuan per trip."
February 19, 2021