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16 Feb, 2015

Beijing strengthens Chinese New Year holiday festival safety measures

Beijing, (China Daily) 2015-02-14 – The Beijing city government is strengthening safety measures for Spring Festival following the deadly New Year’s Eve stampede in Shanghai.

The number of visitors in tourist attractions will be strictly monitored, according to the Beijing Commission of Tourism Development, and police must be contacted immediately if they exceed the safety limit.

Wang Jucheng, head of the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s security management unit, said that safety is the top priority for large-scale events.

“Activities that have safety risks would definitely not be permitted, whether the Shanghai incident happened or not,” said Wang. “Organizers of activities that include more than 1,000 people must submit security plans as well as the details of venues, hosts and helpers.”

On New Year’s Eve, 36 people died and 49 were injured in a stampede on Shanghai’s Bund.

The incident provoked widespread criticism of the local government’s deficiencies in safety management measures.

Beijing will also cancel or scale down traditional fairs at key venues.

The popular Lianhuachi fair, or Lotus Pond fair, which had been held in Beijing’s Fengtai district for years, has been canceled for safety concerns.

The Temple of Heaven will simplify its traditional ceremony, though a dance and music show will still be provided.

According to the park, it will also stop selling tickets if there are more than 90,000 visitors.

The Ditan and Longtan fairs, which have been running for three decades, will reduce their booths, cancel opening ceremonies and take strict crowd control measures.

Organizers of the two fairs have invited professional companies to evaluate safety measures and make contingency plans. A safety limit will be set on the number of visitors.

The fairs will also install more than 100 surveillance cameras and about 20 monitoring towers to ensure safety.

“The cancellation and scaling down of fairs, though not welcomed, is understandable,” said Wang Rui, a teacher from Beijing Culture and Art School. “Too many people may want to attend the fairs at certain big venues during the festival, and that will put too much pressure on public security management departments. Lots of my friends have decided to stay home to avoid crowded events.”

The General Office of the State Council released a safety notice on Monday that ordered local governments, tourist attraction management departments and hotels to make safety plans to prevent stampedes.

It also said that large-scale events must be approved by public security departments, and that people in charge will be seriously punished if safety incidents occur during the festival.