Due to fears of another Covid-19 wave in the region, all flights from the US and UK to Hong Kong are banned for at least two weeks.
The Chinese-run city put a ban on all inbound aircraft from eight nations, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, as its lawmakers imposed the most stringent restrictions since Covid-19 was discovered two years ago.
Several Other Countries Are Also Banned in January
According to Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines are also nations whose citizens will be barred from entering Hong Kong from January 8th to at least January 21st. While severe entry conditions have been in place, including mandatory quarantine, the flight ban means that passengers cannot even transit Hong Kong on carriers like Cathay Pacific.
Authorities are searching close contacts of 2,500 passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean ship ordered to return to port after being declared a “cruise to nowhere” due to a Covid-19 outbreak.
Carrie Lam said at a news conference, “We have to contain the pandemic to ensure that there will not be a major outbreak in the community again.” Hong Kong’s leader added that the city is “on the verge” of another surge.
The announcement is the latest step in Hong Kong’s “zero-covid” strategy, which aims to halt the spread of the Omicron variant and eliminate it at all costs.
Several Restrictions Are in Place, and Even Asymptomatic People Need to Be Hospitalized
While flights from the US and UK to Hong Kong are banned, indoor hospitality establishments are now affected by the 6 p.m. curfew. And beauty salons, swimming pools, gyms, nightclubs, and sports centers have been closed for two weeks. Also, even asymptomatic coronavirus patients in Hong Kong need to be hospitalized.
All the same, several Covid-19 clusters have appeared in Hong Kong in recent days, linked to several Cathay Pacific crew members who violated quarantine regulations by dining out in pubs and restaurants throughout the holiday season before testing positive when they returned to work.
It resulted in two aircrew members being fired on New Year’s Day.
Cathay Pacific said, “The actions of these individuals are extremely disappointing, as they undermine the otherwise exemplary dedication and compliance shown by our over 10,000 aircrew.” The airline added that it was working closely with health authorities to strengthen the protection of public health.
Carrie Lam warned, “We’re yet to see a fifth wave, but we’re on the verge.”