BEIJING – The Beijing authorities have issued a smog alert, the first one of this winter, during which the air quality in the Chinese capital and the areas surrounding it have improved significantly.
The orange alert, the second most severe of the country’s four-tiered alert system, was issued on Thursday night by the city’s air pollution emergency response office and will last from Friday until Jan. 19.
According to official forecasts, there will be severe air pollution and some cities of the region may even experience very severe levels of pollution.
The alert imposes strict measures on industrial activity and on other polluting activities, including construction and public projects, as well as restrictions on road traffic, while barbecues and fireworks have also been prohibited.
Schools and nurseries have been advised not to hold activates outside.
This alert comes shortly after a series of official announcements about the marked improvement in the air quality in Beijing and surrounding areas in the last few months, following a series of strict measures by the government.
For example, the level of PM2.5 – the smallest, most harmful particles of pollution – fell 33.5 percent in Beijing and in another 26 cities in northeastern China in the last quarter of 2017 with respect to the same period of 2016.
Some of the measures implemented within the government’s plan involved a ban on coal-fired heaters in Beijing and adjoining areas, but in some areas the natural gas networks were not set up in time while in others there wasn’t enough gas to supply the new boilers.
This led the authorities to allow several districts to temporarily return to the use of coal for heating as an emergency measure.
The winter cold has intensified this week in the Beijing region.
The temperature in central Beijing early Friday was minus 13 degrees Celsius.