The New York Times reports that authorities are responding swiftly to hazardous levels of air pollution in Harbin, a city in China’s northeast—a move that may indicate a shift in official policy in favor of trying to mitigate the effects of airborne pollutants rather than simply covering up or ignoring the problem.
Earlier this week, officials closed schools and canceled public transportation and airport traffic in an attempt to keep residents outside and out of danger after the city was coated in a heavy layer of smog.
The news follows last month’s announcement that the Chinese State Council had drafted a plan to dramatically lower air pollution in the country.
Environmental advocates were cheered by the response, but say there is still much more work to be done to improve air quality.
“I give credit to the local government for taking these measures,” Ma Jun, an environmental activist, told The New York Times. “Having said that, I think it’s not enough. I think people won’t be satisfied with just knowing which day to put on face masks or not go to school or keep their children indoors. They really want blue-sky days.”