torsdag 19. januar 2023

After ‘Zero-COVID,’ China’s Families Face a Lunar New Year Dilemma

For decades, the Lunar New Year holiday has only meant one thing for Wen Guoqiang: a family reunion at his mother’s house in east China’s Jiangsu province. The 63-year-old and his four siblings live in cities across eastern China these days, but the trip back to their hometown has always been sacred.

The family, however, has been forced to break with tradition this year. With COVID-19 spreading like wildfire in China, they felt gathering over the holiday would be too dangerous. “It was a hard decision to make,” Wen told Sixth Tone. “It’s the first time the reunion has been canceled since I can remember.”

This year’s holiday is taking place amid unprecedented uncertainty. Just weeks ago, China abandoned its strict “zero-COVID” policy, and ordered local authorities to get rid of restrictions on intercity travel. For millions of people, this means they’re now free to visit their hometowns over the Spring Festival for the first time in years. But many are hesitating over whether to do so, fearing they might accidentally expose elderly relatives to the virus.