Status: 01/14/2022 1:32 p.m
Three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Hong Kong Airport bans stopovers for travelers from 153 countries – the reason is the spread of the Omicron variant. Mainland China is also tightening the measures.
Hong Kong International Airport banned passengers from more than 150 countries and territories from making stopovers in China’s SAR for a month. The measure will come into effect on Sunday and will apply until February 15, according to a public notice. The aim is to contain the highly contagious omicron variant of the corona virus. Similar to mainland China, strict measures such as long quarantines, targeted lockdowns and mass tests also apply in Hong Kong. Hong Kong currently classifies 153 countries in Group A due to high corona incidences. Travelers from this group must be in quarantine for 21 days after entry. The stopover ban should now apply to passengers who have been to one of the 153 countries in the past three weeks.
Omicron eruption by crew members
The Chinese special administrative region is struggling with a small outbreak of the omicron variant. It was triggered by crew members from the Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific who did not follow the quarantine rules at home. It is unclear whether the transit ban will affect the Beijing Winter Olympics. Many athletes, diplomats and government officials are expected to fly to China via Hong Kong in the coming days. The Beijing Winter Olympics begin on February 4th.
China tightens measures
Due to isolated outbreaks, China also announced today that it would tighten the measures. Children in international schools must be tested for the virus from next week. Air passengers who want to enter via a third country will no longer be allowed into the country. Residents are urged to travel only if absolutely necessary – with no guarantee they will be allowed to return if they have visited a city or region where an outbreak has occurred. Flights and bus services between Beijing and several cities have been suspended. The measures are likely to show nervousness about a possible surge in cases leading up to the games.
Mass test in Tianjin
The city of Tianjin, a port and manufacturing center of 14 million people about an hour from the capital, has ordered a third round of mass testing to begin on Saturday morning and be completed within 24 hours. Tianjin is one of half a dozen cities where the government has imposed lockdowns and other restrictions to track down every virus case. In the past few days, 126 cases were discovered there, which apparently went back to the omicron variant. The authorities have suspended all travel connections between Tianjin and Beijing. A total of more than 20 million people are in lockdown, many of whom have to stay in their homes. Factories have been closed, affecting the supply of computer chips and other products. China has also banned dozens of overseas flights from Europe, Canada, the US, Indonesia and other countries after passengers tested positive for the coronavirus on arrival. China has repeatedly imposed far-reaching travel restrictions since the outbreak of the pandemic and, together with mass testing and digital surveillance, prevented the corona virus from spreading across the board.
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