Fresh on the heels of last week's false alarm comes another whopper: We're in for a red alert for bad air beginning at 8pm tomorrow (Friday) night, and this time around even more cars are being removed from the roads.
Forecasters are expecting this pollution to be the worst that has hit the capital for the past several months.
The warning was issued today (Dec 15) at 1pm and takes effect starting from Friday, December 16 at 8pm and will last through to Tuesday, December 20 – a four-day batch of deadly pollution that is sure to dampen your spirits that were uplifted today by the beautiful air.
For those of you who haven't had such fun before, a red alert calls for a bunch of measures to try to minimize the pollution. It's debatable as to whether it does anything to help, but we here at the Beijinger applaud the moves under the "every little bit counts" clause.
The most significant of the measures is more than half the motor vehicles to be banned from the roads; under a revision of the warning system that takes effect today, even more cars are being restricted from the roads: older cars that only meet the national I and the national II emission standards are now completely banned from the roads during red alerts, while all other gasoline-fueled vehicles are restricted on an odds/evens basis. In addition, city officials are asked to reduce vehicle use by their ministries by an additional 30 percent. Electric vehicles are not restricted.
The full list of mandatory measures are as follows:
Increase the number of daily cleaning operations on major roads by more than 1x per day;
Stop all outdoor construction sites from spraying paint, slope protection sprays, construction demolition, mechanical cutting and other construction operations;
The national I and the national II emission standard light gasoline vehicles (including driving school vehicles) are banned from operating at all; National III standard vehicles restricted on an odds/evens basis; Official city vehicles to operate on the odd and even number and additionally reduce vehicle use by 30 percent;
All construction waste, cement and gravel transport vehicles prohibited from the road (with the exception of clean energy vehicles);
Industries appearing on the government’s list of restricted manufacturing enterprises are to be shut;
Fireworks and outdoor barbecues are banned;
Arrange to increase energy usage from sources outside the city while reducing usage of power produced locally.
The city also has non-mandatory suggestions for red alert periods, as follows:
1. Health Protection Guidance Measures
a) Children; elderly; those with cardiovascular, cerebrovascular or other chronic diseases should endeavor to stay indoors and avoid outdoor activities; others should also reduce outdoor activity;
b) Those working outdoors (可采取 kě cǎiqǔ) an take protective measures such as wearing masks;
c) Kindergartens, Primary and secondary schools to take flexible teaching or suspension and other protective measures;
d) Medical and health institutions should offer medical guidance to those with respiratory diseases.
2. Suggested Volunteer Measures
a) Use public transportation rather than private vehicles; reduce idling time by shutting off engines in a timely manner when stopping;
b) Increase dust control measures at construction sites, bare ground, material supply depots and other places;
c) Increase road cleaning to reduce traffic dust pollution;
d) Reduce the use of paints, solvents and other volatile organic compounds;
e) Enterprises can adjust working hours as they see fit, transfer and remote office and other flexible work.
The red alert is reminiscient of the terrible air we had almost one year ago to the day, when Christmas 2015 was greeted with some of the worst air on record.
Beijing is not the only one getting smoked; everywhere in the whole Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, as well as Shandong and Henan for good measure, are due to be poached in putrid air. So your only chance is to abandon ship and fly on out of here. Book your flights out now (say hi to Zhang Ziyi at the airport), ask your boss to work from home, and gear up on masks and filtration machines – you've got until tomorrow night.
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