Less than two weeks from the declaration of the first-ever Red Alert emergency due to bad air, we’re set for another one beginning Saturday at 7am, which means odds/evens traffic restrictions, closures of factories and construction sites, and the shuttering of most schools early next week.
This will be the first time a Red Alert will take place over the weekend, which will be an oddity because there are usually no plate restrictions on Saturday or Sunday. This means a drop in automotive volume of 50 percent on each day, as opposed to removing 30 percent on a typical weekday (20 percent of cars are restricted normally).
The odds/evens traffic controls will be enforced beginning at 7am Saturday (Dec 19) and be in effect through midnight on Tuesday, December 22 – a four-day bad air alert.
Relief will arrive in the form of a cold front that arrives the morning of December 23.
In addition to the mandatory restrictions, the measures call for the shuttering of preschools, primary schools, middle schools and high schools. This will be less of a problem for many of Beijing’s international schools (many of which are on Christmas break next week), but still presents a problem for local schools, who aren’t.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education called for all schools to be closed on Monday and Tuesday of next week.They stressed that learning should not cease during the period and educators should reach out to students to give them homework via social media channels and school websites.
However, the department also said that all schools should have staff on hand to take care of students who are unable to stay at home due to parental obligations during the work day.
A Red Alert is declared when the air quality is forecast to be over AQI 200 for three days or more.
For those of you looking to track pollution forecasts on your own, check out one of these three resources: