Beijing’s choking smog hits red-alert level for first time ever as schools and factories are forced to close
Second stretch of high pollution to hit Beijing as school students forced inside
Beijing issued its first red alert for smog on Monday night as the capital was hit by hazardous levels of pollution for the second time within a week.
The alert – the highest in a four-level system – will be in place from 7am on Tuesday until noon on Thursday.
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It means traffic will be heavily controlled. Car usage will be limited based on the last number of the vehicle’s licence plate – odd and even numbers will be allowed on the roads on alternate days. Government departments will be required to reduce car usage by 30 per cent.
Public transport will run on extended timetables, while heavy construction trucks will be banned from the road.
Firework displays and barbecues are also prohibited.
The smog is expected to reach its highest level on Wednesday.
The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre said the smog would last until Thursday evening, when a cold front and strong wind would bring back clear skies.
President Xi Jinping arrived in the capital on Sunday afternoon after a week-long trip during which he attended a climate change conference in Paris and visited Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Xi vowed in his speech in Paris to combat global warming and agreed to cooperate with other countries to reduce greenhouse gases.
Beijing, as well as nine surrounding cities in Tianjin and Hebei, had been under an orange alert – the second highest level – since Saturday.
Schools and kindergartens have already suspended all outdoor activities while municipal government departments encouraged employees to use public transport. Some schools in Beijing, mainly primary schools, on Sunday night announced class suspension for three days starting from Monday due to the heavy smog, reported the Beijing Youth Daily.
Beijing’s environmental protection authority has come under fire for not issuing the highest-level red alert when the city experienced hazardous pollution for five consecutive days from November 27. Many parents complained that children should have been told to stay at home.
Meteorologists expected the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area to have another round of smog next week from December 14.