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Provinces relaxing traffic restrictions to normalize shipping flows

By CANG WEI | | Updated: 2022-05-26 21:24
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Many Chinese cities have eased traffic restrictions in response to measures recently rolled out by the State Council to boost the economy amid COVID-19 flare-ups on the mainland.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, rolled out 33 measures to stabilize growth earlier this week, including steps to cancel traffic restrictions for people from low-risk areas and ensuring free PCR tests are provided to passenger and freight transport drivers.

Starting Wednesday, Jiangsu province, one of East China's economic hubs, has canceled all epidemic prevention restrictions for vehicles coming from low-risk areas. Drivers do not even have to present a negative PCR test result.

According to the Jiangsu Transport Bureau, the number of vehicles on the province's highways have increased from about 200,000 to 1.2 million in recent days, and will soon increase to 1.8 million.

"It just took me one minute to show the health code and travel code on my cellphone to checkers at the highway exit," said Li Zheng, a cable company employee who commutes between Nanjing and Changzhou.

"It used to be a nightmare to spend hours in lines that seemed endless to exit the highway when the epidemic prevention measures on traffic were strict," he said.

He added Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu, requires travelers from low-risk areas with no PCR test results to take two tests over three days to ensure safety.

Feng Wei, a deputy professor from Southeast University's school of economics and management, said governments at different levels have researched and put forward measures to guarantee transportation and help small- and medium-sized companies cope with difficulties during the pandemic.

"Both the companies' profitability and consumers' willingness to spend money have been affected by the pandemic," he said. "The governments have paid great attention to these issues. The willingness to spend money might be hard to encourage by new policies soon, since the pandemic isn't over, but the economy can be boosted by means such as new infrastructure investment, as well as the sharing and digital economies. By developing the domestic market, China's steady economic growth can be guaranteed."

Vehicles coming from high- and medium-risk areas, including neighboring megacity Shanghai, will still be checked before entering the province, the transport bureau said. More than 20,000 freight transport vehicles from Shanghai enter Jiangsu every day.

Airports and canals have also eased restrictions and simplified epidemic prevention procedures to speed up transportation.

Lianshui Airport in Huai'an has worked with the Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport to provide new routes for companies to transport products to Osaka, Japan and some Southeast Asian countries.

Products of the city and neighboring cities can also be transported from the airport to many domestic destinations, such as Shenzhen, Chongqing and Chengdu, within 24 hours.

Jiangsu province will give transportation companies subsidies totaling 50 million yuan ($7.4 million) to help them resume normal production.

In Hainan province, Haikou Meilan International Airport no longer requires a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before entering and exiting the airport since Wednesday.

However, it said some cities still have different traffic restrictions and passengers should take into consideration the epidemic prevention policies of their destinations and airlines.

Some cities in Jiangxi province, including Xinyu and Fuzhou, now require less PCR testing, with the majority of local residents only needing to take one test every seven or 10 days.

Guo Jun contributed to the story.

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