My School Says I Can't Travel Because of COVID-19... Really?

By Marian Rosenberg, September 24, 2021

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‘Don’t make things up. Don't believe everything you are told without double checking. Don’t spread rumors.’

These three sentences make up “不造、不信、不转” – one of the key phrases that Chinese readers have been reminded with ever since the start of the pandemic.

As a translator, my main business are books, contracts and government stuff. As a foreigner and longtime member of the foreign community, I offer my company’s basic services to other foreigners for ‘stuff they can’t figure out how to do in Chinese’ that they don’t want to ask their Chinese friends or colleagues for help with.

Recently, an international school with multiple foreign teachers sent out a notice informing teachers that “due to the epidemic infection between teachers and students in Fujian province, the provincial headquarters requires that teachers and students not leave the island during the upcoming holidays.”

From the get-go, it was obvious that the blurry government notice, which the school had shared (jointly issued by the Provincial Bureau of Education and the Provincial Health and Sanitation Committee), was missing a page. 

Even for someone who doesn’t read Chinese, the punctuation shows that it ended in the middle of a sentence. It was also missing the red stamp that always comes at the bottom of official announcements.

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The image that was making the rounds. Collected via Marian Rosenberg for That’s

An initial call to the Education Bureau stated that official recommendations from the government (wash your hands often, avoid crowded places, wear masks) had not changed. They also said ‘non-essential travel’ continues to be discouraged (as it has been for the past year and a half). 

As a non-public guideline, getting a look at a full copy of Letter No. 115 without redactions took a few days of poking at various resources but, once my company did, we found that other than a politely worded “please don’t travel off-island during the Mid-Autumn Festival,” neither teachers nor students are currently subject to restrictions on leaving the island during the holiday period. (This may change based on the current epidemic situation and will be announced accordingly.)

So, it turns out that the school was sharing an incomplete government letter, which should serve as a reminder for everyone to be diligent with the information that you receive in regards to COVID-19. There have been multiple attempts to excite the public into distress through fake images, as pictured below.

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Collected via Marian Rosenberg for That’s

The fake images above claim a college student in Lin’gao tested positive for COVID-19, but multiple errors can be spotted upon closer inspection, such as wrong number of digits for her ID among others. Some such cases of spreading rumors and faking documents have resulted in arrests in Sanya, Wanning and Lingshui.

Any official notices restricting travel would likely be announced through formal channels such as the Official WeChat accounts of the Hainan Daily or Nanguo Metropolis newspapers (and possibly translated and posted by HiHainan).

READ MORE: Totally Turkish: Exploring 5 Ethnic Eateries in Haikou

A translator living in Hainan for 17 of her 19 years in China, Marian Rosenberg is best known for her annual cycling trips through rural China. These trips not only have her blogging on Cycleblaze (username: brucianna) and helping people out on the Travel in China During Covid groups (Cyclist Translator), they've also landed her in the Washington Post's travel section and are the reason she has more than 40,000 followers on Douyin (我是凡一).


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