Beijing closes schools and bans cars as smog health fears reach highest level

Health

Beijing closes schools and bans cars as smog health fears reach highest level

Beijing issued its first-ever red alert for smog on Monday, urging schools to close and invoking restrictions on factories and traffic that will keep half of the city’s vehicles off the roads. The red alert — the most serious warning on a four-tier system adopted a little over two years ago — means authorities have forecast more than three consecutive days of severe smog. An online notice from the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said it issued the alert to “protect public health and reduce levels of heavy air pollution”.

We have no choice but to step up preventative measures like wearing a mask outdoors at all times.

Beijing hotel staffer Fan Jinglong

Along with school closures and limiting cars to driving every other day depending on the last number of their license plate, a raft of other restrictions will seek to reduce the amount of dust and other particulate matter in the city of 22.5 million people. Officials said extra subway trains and buses would be added to handle the additional strain on public transport. Polluted air throughout broad swaths of China has had severe health effects. Most of the pollution is blamed on coal-fired power plants, along with vehicle emissions and construction and factory work. China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, plans to upgrade coal power plants over the next five years to tackle the problem, and says its emissions will peak by around 2030 before starting to decline.