BEIJING – Beijing has issued its first-ever “red alert” for smog amid the second intense bout of bad air this month. Officials announced plans to close schools, temporarily shutter factories and take half of the city’s cars off the roads.
The measures will go into effect on Tuesday at 7 a.m. and last until noon on Thursday, when meteorologists predict a cold front will move the smog away.
The alert, which Beijing’s Office of Emergency Management announced Monday, comes after a five-day stretch of air pollution last week reduced visibility in some areas to less than 300 feet and delayed flights at the city’s main international airport.
Some commuters fear that the alert will wreak havoc on Beijing’s already-packed buses and subways, and parents wondered how they’ll look after their children until schools reopen.
“We were just informed the primary school will be shut for three days,” said Li Xia, 35, an employee at an insurance company with an 8-year-old daughter. “There isn’t such a thing as a pollution holiday for us. … What are we going to do with our children while we’re working?”
Dong Liansai, a Beijing-based climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said the alert was consistent with the city’s emergency response plan. “That’s a sign of a different attitude from the Beijing government,” he said. “It shows they really want to … deal with air pollution.”
Los Angeles Times