China celebrates the Lunar New Year with most of the COVID regulations lifted

BEIJING: Passersby China resound in Lunar New Year on Sunday with large family gatherings and crowds visiting temples after the government lifted its strict “no COVID” policy, marking the biggest celebration since the pandemic began here three years.

Lunar New Year is the most important annual holiday in China. Each year is named after one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs in a repeating cycle, with this year being the Year of the Rabbit. For the past three years, celebrations have been muted in the shadow of the pandemic.

With the easing of most restrictions due to COVID-19, many people are finally able to make their first trip back home to reunite with their families without worrying about the hassles of quarantine, the possibility of blockade and travel suspension. Larger public celebration also returns for what is known as Spring Festival in Chinawith the capital hosting thousands of cultural events – on a larger scale than a year ago.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control, said mass movement of people could cause the virus to spread in certain areas. However, a large-scale COVID-19 outbreak is unlikely in the next two or three months as about 80% of the country’s 1.4 billion people have been infected in the recent wave, he wrote on social media. Weibo assembly on Saturday.

In Beijing, many devotees did morning prayers at the Lama Temple but the crowds appeared to be less than in pre-pandemic days. The Tibetan Buddhist site allows up to 60,000 visitors per day, citing safety reasons and requiring reservations in advance.

At Taoranting Park, there is no sign of the usual bustling Tet food stalls, although the walkways are decorated with traditional Chinese lanterns. A popular temple fair at Badachu Park will resume this week, but similar events at Ditan Park and Longtan Lake Park have yet to reopen.

In Hong Kong, revelers flocked to the city’s largest Taoist temple, Wong Tai Sin Temple, to burn the first incense sticks of the year. The site’s popular etiquette has been suspended for the past two years due to the pandemic. Traditionally, before 11pm on New Year’s Eve, before 11pm, everyone tries to be the first, or among the first, to place their incense sticks in the stands in front of the temple’s main hall. Worshipers believe that those who are among the first to place their incense will have the best chance of having their prayers answered.

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

“I hope to light the first incense and pray that the new year will bring peace to the world, the Hong Kong economy will prosper and the pandemic will pass and we can all live a normal life. normal,” Ho said. “I believe this is what everyone wants.”


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