Companies in China are offering bonuses to stop the annual 'reunion' exodus
The Lunar New Year is upon us. Pre-COVID, billions of Chinese employees worldwide would be making plans to travel home and have large gatherings with their loved ones for the annual ‘reunion’ meals. This year however, with the pandemic still surging on, companies and local governments in China are incentivising workers to avoid travel in hopes of containing the spread of the virus.
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Employers promised to give out cash bonuses and a slew of vouchers to entice them to stay put for the 16-day-long celebration. Many have offered shopping vouchers, movie tickets, entry passes to entertainment venues, and free meals to minimise the annual mass migration.
Local officials in a district in Suzhou, for instance, even offered to absorb half the cost of rentals to state-owned flats for employers, if they gave workers a cash bonus. The authorities have also warned that ‘unnecessary’ trips across cities could lead to a new wave of infections. Unfortunately transport officials estimated that residents would still make over 300 million train trips during the festive season this year, reported South China Morning Post.
Lockdowns and restrictions last year was said to have cut CNY travel by over 50%.
In an open letter to residents in an industrial town in Guangdong, southern China, authorities dangled treats and urged workers to enjoy the local spots instead.
“Reducing the risk of spreading the virus, protecting yourself and your family, these are the best presents you can give yourselves as well as your city,” they wrote. “We sincerely suggest that you stay with Foshan for the 2021 new year.”
Recently several states, including Beijing, were forced back into lockdown after a spike of cases. They were also thrown back into a scramble to mass test residents, following at least half a year of relative normalcy and respite from the virus.