Cities offering treats to limit New Year trips

Because of the COVID-19 clusters, many cities are giving incentives for migrant workers not to travel, especially during the Chinese Lunar New Year. 

The Chinese mainland on Sunday reported 109 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 93 locally transmitted and 16 arriving from outside the mainland, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

Of the locally transmitted cases, 54 were reported in Hebei Province, 30 in Jilin, seven in Heilongjiang, and two in Beijing.

Tough new controls in the city of Gongzhuling in northern Jilin Province, which has a population of about 1 million, brings the total number of people under lockdown to more than 29 million.

Daily increases in infections remain a fraction of what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but officials are concerned infections could spread during the Lunar New Year holiday in less than a month.

Despite restrictions, the China Railway Corporation expects about 296 million passenger trips during the Lunar New Year break, compared with 410 million in 2019.

Many cities are giving incentives for migrant workers not to travel. The manufacturing hub of Yiwu on the east coast, offers subsidies, including rent reductions, to encourage workers to stay put. Tianjin, home to 15 million people, said employees would get a one-off payment of 300 yuan (US$46.20) if they stay in the city.

Cainiao, the delivery arm of Alibaba, is offering more than 200 million yuan in subsidies so “people move less, goods move more” during the holiday.

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