Online reservation system for tomb sweeping to stay
The online reservation system established in Shanghai for tomb sweepers taking part in the Qingming Festival to prevent gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic will remain in place, Shanghai's civil affairs authorities announced on Sunday.
The festival, which fell on April 4 this year, is when Chinese people traditionally sweep family tombs and pay their respects to their deceased ancestors.
Online reservations opened on March 26, with four two-hour time slots available at each of the 54 cemeteries and columbaria across Shanghai every day between March 28 and April 12, the peak days of tomb sweeping.
To prevent mass gatherings and the spread of the coronavirus, the reservation system will remain in place, with online tomb sweeping services also encouraged, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said.
Tomb sweepers are required to present e-reservation proof, a health QR code, have their temperature measured and wear masks when visiting cemeteries, the bureau said.
During the 16 peak days, the 54 cemeteries and columbaria provided 1.43 million slots for tomb sweepers, with 1.02 million slots reserved in total, according to the bureau.
A total of 968,500 people visited cemeteries and columbaria, a drop of 85 percent from the same period last year, the bureau said.
More than 4,600 urns were interred during the period, a decrease of 54 percent from the same period last year, according to the bureau.
Tomb sweepers maintained good order at cemeteries and columbaria, the bureau said.
Some 1.17 million "Cloud tomb-sweeping" visits have been made online during the period to replace real visits, according to the bureau.
Cemetery staff sweep tombs for families if requested, by cleaning graves, bowing and laying flowers. Live broadcasts and photographs can be provided.
As of Sunday, 45,300 such requests had been met by cemeteries and columbaria, the bureau said.
Shanghai's cemeteries and columbaria received 2.19 million tomb-sweepers during last year's Qingming Festival day on April 5, according to the bureau. Authorities reported severe congestion on roads and expressways near burial locations.