A lack of congestion at the airports . . .
Lunar New Year, sometimes referred to in Canada as Chinese New Year, officially begins on February 12. In a typical year, the days leading up to the annual holiday would be filled with media stories of massively overcrowded train stations, airports, and bus terminals across China and other countries in East Asia. But this is not a typical year, and the usual internal migration of workers from cities to the countryside will be a fraction of its usual scale for the second year in a row.
Paying employees not to travel . . .
Sixty per cent fewer travellers are expected to partake in this year’s LNY migration over 2019. In 2019, China’s transport ministry recorded three billion journeys, but in 2021 the ministry expects only 1.7 billion trips. Unlike last year’s lockdown-induced decrease in travel, this year’s internal migration is being diminished by a combination of incentives and restrictions. Those employed by China’s many government or state-owned enterprises have been ordered not to travel. Private-sector workers, meanwhile, are being incentivized to stay put with offers of cash bonuses or, in the case of migrant workers, assistance in applying for city residence permits and school admission for their children. Additionally, there is the added deterrent that those travelling to rural areas must take COVID-19 tests and self-isolate upon arrival.
Canadian families celebrate remotely . . .
In years past, Canada’s airports would have also seen an increase in air travel by those journeying to rejoin their families for the holiday. This year, however, those travellers will be absent, as Canadians are being asked to stay home, and travellers entering Canada face quarantine restrictions. While a small bump in travellers is expected for February 2021, arrivals from Asia to Canada are down 84.6 per cent from November to January year-on-year. With travel greatly diminished this year, spending on goods and (not in-person) services may see a boost, as those celebrating seek to remain connected while needing to stay physically apart.