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What China’s Lunar New Year Treks Mean for Covid Surge: QuickTake

Bloomberg business news
WATCH: Michelle Cortez explains what’s next for China’s Covid surge.Source: Bloomberg
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For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, people in China can travel freely for Lunar New Year, the country’s most important holiday. The annual ritual of family reunion usually involves billions of trips, but those were sharply curtailed over the past three years as the government urged people to “celebrate where you are” to avoid spreading the virus. The abrupt lifting of the country’s strict Covid Zero policy at the end of 2022 has already led to a huge wave of new infections. The question now is how much of an impact the massive migration will have on the outbreak — as well as the already fragile economy.

Also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, it marks the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar, and is seen as celebrating values like unity and family ties. By law, people in China get seven days off beginning New Year’s Eve, which falls on Jan. 21 this year. Traditionally, the celebrations span 16 days, from a family feast on New Year’s Eve through the Lantern Festival on Day 15. Many migrant workers seize what’s often their only chance in the year to return home, and many of the country’s urban elites also make their way back to small towns and villages. Before the pandemic, the annual event was considered the world’s biggest human migration.