China's cultural and tourism administration authorities will impose stricter measures on attendance at attractions and performance sites to prevent a rebound of the novel coronavirus during the New Year's and Spring Festival holidays.
With sporadic cases reported in recent weeks, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will continue to suspend travel agencies' services for group trips leaving or coming into the Chinese mainland over the holidays, the ministry's senior officials said at a news conference on Monday.
Tourism attractions and indoor entertainment venues including theaters, cybercafes and cinemas are allowed to admit visitors at no more than 75 percent of their maximum capacity over the holidays.
The ministry also encouraged visitors to make reservations in advance whenever possible in order to better control population flows over the holidays.
"COVID-19 is spreading fast at foreign destinations, while domestic sites face challenges handling sporadic cases. So we recommend that travelers reduce unnecessary trips," Hou Zhengang, inspector of the ministry's market management department, said at the news conference.
He also reminded travelers to suspend unnecessary trips to overseas destinations and domestic attractions with a high or medium risk from the coronavirus during the holidays.
The tourism market has faced great pressure to balance people's desire for travel with stricter measures designed to prevent new coronavirus cases.
Authorities in Beijing, for example, have shut down some popular attractions, such as Nanhu Island at the Summer Palace, to avoid large gatherings with the potential for spreading infection.
The city will tighten its oversight and control measures during the holidays, and has told travel agencies to suspend the organizing of group tours to the city for now.
The city's travel agencies will also suspend group tours to domestic destinations designated as high or medium risk as well as tours to or from foreign destinations during the holidays, Zhou Weimin, inspector of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, said at a recent news conference.
While facing ever stricter measures against COVID-19, people's desire to travel during the holidays remains high.
For the three-day New Year's holiday, which starts on Friday, hotel reservations have increased by 80 percent over the same period last year, according to figures from Qunar, an online travel agency.
"We hope that travelers become familiar with the latest control measures for their destinations before their trips and pay attention to personal healthcare while traveling," said Hou.
"We encourage travelers to wash their hands frequently and wear masks to secure a happy and safe holiday," he added.