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April 7, 2020

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Tomb-sweeper numbers see significant drop

Around 375,400 people visited the city’s 54 cemeteries and columbaria during the three-day Qingming Festival holiday, an 88 percent decrease from the same period last year, Shanghai’s civil affairs authorities said yesterday. An online reservation mechanism was in place for the first time amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The festival, on Saturday this year, is when Chinese people traditionally sweep family tombs and pay respects to their ancestors.

Yesterday, the cemeteries and columbaria had 121,200 reservation slots for tomb-sweepers with 94,800 reserved. On the day, 88,000 turned up, bringing an extra 22,000 vehicles onto the streets, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said.

Songhe Cemetery in Jiading District, Binhai Guyuan Cemetery in Fengxian District and Zhizunyuan Cemetery in Qingpu District had the largest number of visitors, it said.

Online reservations opened on March 26, with four two-hour time slots available at each location every day between March 28 and April 12.

Between March 28 and yesterday, there were 1.02 million slots available with 824,300 booked and 793,600 used, bringing an extra 186,100 vehicles onto the streets, according to the bureau.

A total of 4,002 urns were interred during the period.

“The authorities’ call to visit tombs when the pandemic ends has been actively echoed by residents, with a big decrease in visits recorded,” Huang Yifei, director of the bureau’s funeral and Interment department, said.


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