Following a spike in cases over the last 30 days, Hong Kong plans to start allowing select tourists will be delayed as restrictions tighten to control the virus.
From a ban on dining in restaurants in groups to urging its residents to stay at home, here’s all you need to know about the situation in Hong Kong, and how it affects travelers.
Why Are They Tightening Restrictions?
Following a spike in cases in July, Hong Kong implemented a string of measures designed to curb the spread of the virus. It had a tremendous effect, and the region went through the months of September and October will relatively few cases of Covid-19 reported. However, the cases began to rise again in November, which saw the planned travel bubble with Singapore delayed indefinitely and hundreds of people testing positive for the virus each day.
Fears rose this week as it emerged that as many as 10 workers at a popular department store had tested positive for Covid-19. The Sha Tin branch of the Yata department store – a venue that sees thousands of customers pass through its doors each day – was just one of several suspected Covid-19 clusters in Hong Kong, with others including dance venues and constructions sites.
With many recent cases untraceable, the decision to tighten restrictions has become an inevitable reality as urgent measures are being taken to stop the situation spiralling out of control.
personnel will need to commute to work. Restaurants have been severely affected by the virus in recent weeks. Whilst restaurants are still permitted to open, they must only operate at 50% capacity and customers will not be allowed to dine in past 6PM, with only take-out orders allowed from this point. These new restrictions follows previous guidelines issued last month, which stated that restaurants were to close at 10PM instead of midnight, and only two diners were to be allowed to be seated at a table, minimizing the risk of infection spreading through large groups. These new restrictions are to last for a minimum of 14 days.
Some business types are to close completely. Karaoke bars, concert halls and gaming arcades are to close indefinitely, whilst beauty and massage parlours – having avoided the previous round of closures and allowed to operate as normal but with mask wearing – have now been given the order to close. Gyms have also been forced to close.
How Else Are They Fighting The Spread?
Hong Kong has ordered mandatory testing for some of its workforce. Those who work in retirement homes and facilities for the disabled must be tested, whilst taxis drivers who intend to work between Christmas and January 23rd must also be tested by December 22nd.
The region has also announced that the fine for those flouting the coronavirus rules has increased from HK$2000 to HK$5000 ($645).
How Will This Affect Travelers?
At present, entry to Hong Kong is extremely limited, and the vast majority of those trying to gain entry will be denied. These new restrictions are sure to be a set-back for those hoping to travel to Hong Kong, as the country now looks further away from opening its borders than it did this time last month. Hong Kong’s spike has also seen the proposed travel bubble with Singapore collapse, further denting any hope of travel in the near future.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories