In this post, I will explain what is happening in Hong Kong and how it affects foreigners who live in the city on different legal foundations.
There are different groups of countries distinguished by the level of COVID threat. These groups affect quarantine measures and transit policies. All news and all explanations are here: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/inbound-travel.html
The problem with this website is that they update the information with a lag. Sometimes it is not clear what is the full list of requirements. They may update the policies on the same day as your travel. It jeopardizes the lives of many travelers around the world who use HK as the transit and arrival hub. There are FB groups that discuss these difficulties.
1. What are the travel and arrival policies?
There are transit and arrival travelers in Hong Kong. The regime is quite different.
— Transit travelers are allowed to go through Hong Kong to other countries except for countries from the A group. This news are announced recently. Other transit travelers should keep an eye on their flight situation. Better choose other transit hubs tbh.
— If you arrive from the A group country. No. It’s impossible. All flights are banned. So, if you want to arrive in Hong Kong, you should find other transit destinations which are allowed.
2. City situation.
— As before masks are mandatory everywhere. It is ironic that you can jog or hike without a mask. So, the officials maybe think that COVID is afraid of the activities or active people and they will not spread anything.
— Playgrounds for kids are also closed.
— Sports facilities are closed. Pretty strange regarding the difference between jogging and hiking. Is it because of outdoor spaces?
— Bars and restaurants are not allowed to work after 18:00 on a normal basis — only delivery.
When is it gonna be over? Officially until the 21st of January or 2-4th of February, the end of the Spring Festival.
3.1. The main reason is that the number of people older than 50 who are vaccinated is around 25-30%. The older the people the less are the vaccination rates.
Why? Because HK imposed strict social distancing measures, mask mandates, and travel restrictions a long time ago. It was done primarily to deny the political activities but not the antiviral premises. COVID was a blessing for the government to finally ban any opposition assemblies within the city, any commemorations, etc.
At the same time, the government was overconfident about its own efficiency, convinced the older generation that the virus is out of the city, that there is nothing to worry about. So, the vaccination plan among the elderly was a failure. Why vaccinate if we’re safe?
3.2. Beijing Olympics are close. It is important to show the united position on COVID both in HK and Beijing.
3.3. HK bet on Beijing. The ease of travel restrictions with mainland China was a priority. So, the city had to keep itself in line with the «Zero tolerance policy from Beijing.»
4.1. The rapid spread of the virus here caused kind of a panic within the officials. They send people to Penny Bay (on the photo) for quarantine. Usually, it’s 21 days. You can be quarantined in the hotel if you’re negative but you have to pay for that, for sure.
— There is an impact on people’s plans, money. Many didn’t see their relatives both on the mainland and in other countries. They can’t come here either.
— Psychological impact shouldn’t be ignored. People are really freaking out of these 21 days in solitary confinement. The food is an issue, and it seems it’s an issue in the hotels you pay for neither than in Penny Bay. People seek help and support in many social network groups. But do you really want to be quarantined? I don’t think so.
— Kids. Kids should have a childhood, play, see each other. Schools are now online. It’s awful to deprive children of their natural needs just to «fix» the mistake with the elderly. There should be some priority over the future generation at least on the educational grounds.
— The health system — because HK authorities failed they are desperately trying to cover up their mistakes in front of Beijing. They know if the virus spreads rapidly — all their talk about the efficiency means nothing — the hospitals would be overwhelmed. Then, there is no way back to pose the «international transport hub» since the priorities had been set. And also, there is no way to explain the situation with Beijing.
— For businesses, it is a severe blow. Flights, bars, restaurants, international trade. All that had been done by the HK government in recent weeks at least will have long-term consequences for the whole city and its economy. But maybe that was the initial goal.