A Very COVID Chinese New Year in 2023

As we prepare to hop into the Year of the Rabbit, there’s something else in the air besides holiday spirit.


Since China eased restrictions and opened up, the virus has crashed into our lives — and is poised to crash the party at Chinese New Year too. Meanwhile, I’ve witnessed it elbow its way into the festivities in myriad ways, making this a particularly COVID Chinese New Year.

Besides the usual top-shelf spirits and artfully boxed goodies, my online supermarket is also promoting alcohol wipes, face shields, K95 masks, pulse oximeters, disposable gloves and vitamin C tablets. It’s a reminder that COVID concern is still driving purchases leading up to the big holiday.

Now that China has opened up its borders, international travel is also on the menu for Chinese New Year. And as many destinations require bilingual proof of a negative COVID test before boarding, a number of friends and colleagues have been rushing to get those coveted tests done, as not every site or hospital offers the service.

And the No. 1 reminder from my employer ahead of the holidays? A notice to protect yourself against COVID by wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and maintaining social distance, emphasizing that everyone is responsible for managing their health.

No matter your plans for the holiday, here’s wishing you a Happy Chinese New Year with more joy — and less COVID.

Jocelyn Eikenburg
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