Reservation system ensure orderly tomb sweeping

Hu Min
Shanghai's 54 cemeteries and columbariums received 272,000 tomb-sweepers on Sunday, the second day of the three-day dongzhi peak tomb-visit period.
Hu Min

Shanghai's 54 cemeteries and columbariums received 272,000 tomb-sweepers on Sunday, the second day of the three-day dongzhi peak tomb-visit period, the city's civil affairs authorities said.

The figure was a big decrease on last year, as tomb-sweepers are required to make reservations in advance, and the number of sweepers has been kept below 50 percent of the daily maximum capacity of cemeteries on the three busiest days, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said. 

The day brought an extra 51,500 vehicles onto the streets and 4,022 urns were buried. 

More than 2,200 "online tomb-sweeping" visits were recorded on Sunday, and 441 households requested cemetery staff sweep tombs for them, according to the bureau.

Winter Solstice, like Qingming Festival, is a time for Chinese people to pay respects to their ancestors. It falls on Monday this year.

Because of the reservation system, no gatherings were observed at city tombs, the bureau said.

Strict health monitoring and disinfection measures have been imposed at cemeteries, and all tomb-sweepers are required to wear masks, have their temperatures taken and health QR codes checked.

A resident surnamed Liu visited the Zhizunyuan Cemetery in Qingpu District with 11 family members over the weekend.

"All of us have made reservations," Liu said.

"Tomb-sweepers are in good order and it is not difficult to find parking spaces, which is really good."

The cemetery prepared 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000 slots for reservation on the three days, with only 1,500 reserved for the weekend daily and 2,000 for Monday. 

"The epidemic and enhanced awareness of avoiding peak visit time is the major reason," said Zha Yun, a staffer of the tomb. 

The Fushouyuan Cemetery in Qingpu and Haiwan Cemetery in Fengxian District also had a lot of unreserved slots.

“For those who could not make reservations, particularly the elderly, we enable them to make registrations at the scene," said Shao Hui, Party secretary of Haiwan Cemetery. 

Fushouyuan said it received several hundred requests from families unable to visit, asking cemetery staff to sweep tombs for them, following procedures such as cleaning graves, bowing and laying flowers.

"We sent photos and videos capturing the whole process to them, and there has been increasing demand on the service compared with the Qingming Festival," said Xu Min, deputy general manager of Fushouyuan. 

The Songhe Cemetery in Jiading District provided 25,000 slots for reservation daily over the weekend and more than 20,000 were secured each day. 

"The figure will grow on Monday, the day of dongzhi," said Xu Weiqing, a staffer of the cemetery. 

The tomb has offered 37,000 slots for reservation on Monday and more than 23,000 were booked so far. 

Because the shuttle bus service between metro stations and cemeteries is suspended during dongzhi period this year, the cemetery allows parking in areas reserved for employees. There is also rented parking lots in the nearby Shanghai International Circuit.

"But we still call on residents to avoid the morning peak of tomb visits," said Xu. 

Since December 1, city cemeteries and columbariums have received 1.13 million tomb-sweepers, and 12,393 urns have been buried. 

Nearly 13,000 "online tomb-sweeping" visits have been recorded during the period, and 1,486 households requested cemetery staff to sweep tombs for them, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

City cemeteries and columbariums have provided 786,500 slots for tomb-sweepers on Monday and more than 260,000 have been secured, according to the bureau.

More than 10,600 urns will be buried on the day. 

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