Beijing Capital International Airport. — Wikimedia Commons

BEIJING — China’s transport ministry expects a 20% drop in road traffic and a 55% fall in flights during the three-day Qingming holiday due to a flare-up of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country. 

More than 27 Chinese provinces and regions have recently reported coronavirus cases, mostly the highly transmissible Omicron variant, forcing the authorities to impose stringent mobility restrictions or even city-wide lockdowns. 

Chinese typically travel back to their hometowns to worship their ancestors during the tomb-sweeping festival. 

The average daily number of vehicles on the roads are estimated to reach 39–40 million during the holiday, which kicked off on April 3, down 21% from the same period last year, according to a statement from the Ministry of Transport. 

The number of planned flights was forecast to decrease by 55% this holiday from the year before, with air travelers also at only 20% of last year’s levels, the ministry said. 

China on Sunday reported a total of 13,287 new daily cases for April 2, the highest level since February 2020. 

The country’s “dynamic clearance” COVID policy has dampened consumption of transportation fuels in China. The two-stage lockdown in financial hub of Shanghai, starting from March 28, could reduce fuel demand by 200,000 barrels per day. 

Authorities across China have also implemented anti-COVID measures at entertainment sites during the Qingming holiday, including limiting the number of tourists and requesting for negative nucleic testing results from inter-provincial travelers. — Reuters