All of Shanghai’s cemeteries have been fully booked up for this year’s Tomb Sweeping Day, meaning that everyone else will have to pay their respects online.
Tomb Sweeping Day or Qingming Festival is a time for people in China to honor their ancestors by tidying up their graves. This year, it falls on April 4.
Cemetery visitors capped
While the holiday typically draws big crowds to cemeteries across the country, authorities have capped visitor numbers and set up an online reservation system this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
All 160,000 available slots on Tomb Sweeping Day have now been booked at Shanghai’s 54 cemeteries, the city’s civil affairs bureau announced on Wednesday.
There are only few slots still open for Sunday and Monday.
Online tomb sweeping
Those without bookings will have to go online to pay respects to their ancestors.
On Tomb Sweeping Day, cemeteries will broadcast and conduct traditional ceremonies performed by cemetery staff.
In the past two weeks, the websites of Shanghai’s cemeteries have received nearly 1 million visits.
For a fee, there’s also the option of personalized service where cemetery workers will livestream themselves sweeping a family’s grave, bowing in front of it, and leaving flowers.
However, with the Covid-19 outbreak, these luxury services are turning into necessities.