China celebrates Lunar New Year with most COVID rules lifted

Beijing – People across China celebrated the Lunar New Year on Sunday after the government lifted its strict “no coronavirus” policy, with large family gatherings and mass visits to temples as the pandemic began three years ago. It was the biggest celebration since

Chinese New Year is the most important annual holiday in China. Each year is named after him, one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, and this year is the Year of the Rabbit. Over the past three years, celebrations have been low-key in the shadow of the pandemic.

With most COVID-19 restrictions easing, many are finally able to return to their hometowns and reunite with their families without worrying about the hassles of quarantines, possible lockdowns and travel suspensions. became. Massive celebrations, known as the Spring Festival, were also held in China, with thousands of cultural events held in the capital. This is on a bigger scale than he was a year ago.

Wu Zunyu, chief epidemiologist at the China Center for Disease Control, said large-scale movements of people could spread the virus to certain areas. However, with about 80% of the country’s 1.4 billion people infected during the recent wave, a major surge in COVID-19 is unlikely in the next two to three months, he said. He wrote on the social media platform Weibo on Saturday.

In Beijing, many worshipers held their morning prayers at a lama temple, but crowds appeared to be smaller than before the pandemic. It allows up to 60,000 visitors and requires advance reservations.

At Touentei Park, there was no sign of the usual bustling New Year’s food stalls, even though the sidewalks were decorated with traditional Chinese lanterns. After being suspended for three years, the popular temple fair at Badachu Park resumes this week, but similar events at Ditan Park and Longtan Lake Park have yet to resume.

In Hong Kong, revelers flocked to the city’s largest Taoist temple, the Wong Tai Sian Temple, to burn the first incense sticks of the year. The site’s popular ritual had been suspended for the past two years due to the pandemic.

Traditionally, before 11pm on New Year’s Eve, a large crowd gathers to be the first or the first to put incense on a stand in front of the temple’s main hall. Worshipers believe that those who offer incense first have the best chance of having their prayers answered.

Local resident Freddie Ho, who visited the temple on Saturday night, was delighted to be a part of the event in person.

“Lighting the first incense, I pray that the New Year will bring world peace, Hong Kong’s economy will prosper, the pandemic will leave us, and we will all be able to lead normal lives,” Ho said. Trust me this is what everyone wants. ”

Meanwhile, crowds praying for good luck at the historic Longshan Temple in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, are fewer than they were a year ago, even as the pandemic eased. One of the reasons is that many people set foot in other parts of Taiwan or abroad on long-awaited trips.

As communities across Asia welcomed the Year of the Rabbit, Vietnamese celebrated the Year of the Cat instead. There is no official answer explaining the difference. But one theory is that cats are popular because they help Vietnamese rice farmers ward off mice.


Associated Press investigator Henry Hou, video journalist Emily Wang from Beijing, video journalist Alice Fung from Hong Kong and Taijing Wu from Taipei, Taiwan contributed to the report.

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