Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities to reimpose restrictions in Hong Kong, China, from July 11. Entry ban for most foreign nationals, quarantine measures ongoing.

  • Alert Begins: 10 Jul 2020 08:22 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 24 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Hong Kong (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Heightened security, mandatory quarantine measures, partial border closure, business and transport disruptions

Summary
Hong Kong officials are tightening social distancing restrictions, July 11-24, following a rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the territory. Under the new measures, restaurants can only operate at 60 percent capacity and may only seat groups of eight people. Officials will require patrons to wear masks at these restaurants and cafes when not eating. Bars and clubs must limit groups to four people per table. Gyms and entertainment venues, such as karaoke rooms, must cap groups at eight people. Authorities have also banned food and beverages at cinemas and theaters. All sites must continue to enforce social distancing measures for patrons.

Officials suspended psychiatric visits and senior citizen care at public hospitals July 10. The government has also suspended classes for most students in the territory. However, authorities continue to allow up to 50 people to gather in public places. Those found violating the orders could face a fine of HKD 50,000 (USD 6,450) and six months in prison.

Hong Kong continues to restrict land border crossings with mainland China to the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Immigration processing centers at Ocean Terminal and Kai Tak Cruise Terminal remain closed. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) remains open. Authorities are allowing some flight transits at HKG if grouped in a single booking, and the connection time is less than 24 hours. Airlines have significantly reduced flights due to decreased demand, and further cancellations are likely.

Increased employee absenteeism remains possible, particularly for employees who reside in mainland China. Many businesses are implementing work-from-home policies and splitting teams to increase social distancing.

Travel Restrictions
A ban on all nonresident foreign nationals from entering or transiting the territory remains in place. Travelers from Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China may enter Hong Kong, provided they have no recent travel history elsewhere; arriving travelers must self-quarantine for two weeks. Authorities are permitting some mainland Chinese teachers and students, as well as businesspeople whose activities officials deem economically beneficial to the territory, to enter Hong Kong without having to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Authorities plan to maintain travel restrictions through at least Aug. 7.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by local health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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