Railway journeys in China during the usually frenetic Lunar New Year holiday travel rush are down by almost 70% amid calls for people to stay where they are to avoid a new outbreak of COVID-19.
The China State Railway Group on Saturday reported 52.33 million passenger trips from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11 — a decline of 68.8% from the same period last year.
The travel rush is generally considered the world’s largest annual human migration, when urban residents, migrant workers and students return to their hometowns for family gatherings.
Air and bus travel are also down considerably, but one figure is up: China’s box office receipts smashed the previous one-day record on Friday, the first day of the new lunar Year of the Ox, bringing in more than 1.736 billion yuan ($269 million), ticket agency Maoyan said.
The full economic impact of the restrictions on holiday spending is not yet clear. Buddhist and Daoist temples that usually are packed with worshippers were ordered closed, along with the seasonal outdoor fairs.
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