"All local governments in China must not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to stop residents from returning to their hometowns for Spring Festival reunions. They should provide convenience to those who need to go back," said Zhao Chenxin, a spokesperson for China's top economic planner the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), at a press conference on Wednesday.
In light of the recent sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19 in some northern and northeastern Chinese cities, the Chinese authorities have advised people to avoid the annual holiday travel rush to prevent the spread of the virus.
"The policy of encouraging people to stay where they work for the upcoming Spring Festival is not mandatory," the official said, adding people from medium and high-risk regions must adopt the policy, but it is only recommended to do so for low-risk areas.
China is facing rising demand for virus testing as peak travel season approaches, said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission (NHC), urging local authorities to improve their testing capacity and explore ways to lower the testing cost and facilitate people being tested.
According to the NHC, China's daily testing capacity for COVID-19 has surpassed 15 million samples.
"Our testing capacity is even stronger when we conduct pool testing, for example, five or 10 samples in one batch," said Zeng, at the press conference.
The Chinese government is striving to accomplish the goal of vaccinating 50 million people in the high-priority group against the coronavirus before the start of the peak Chinese New Year travel season.
Zeng said that as of Tuesday, China had vaccinated 22,767,000 people, and the vaccination drive was progressing steadily.