Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Hong Kong, China, tightens coronavirus controls from July 23. Entry bans continue; additional travel restrictions planned from July 25.

  • Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 09:06 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 29 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Hong Kong (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Heightened security, business and transport disruptions

Summary
Hong Kong officials have tightened restrictions as of July 23 amid an ongoing rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the territory. Stricter social distancing guidelines have been implemented. Authorities will also impose health certificate requirements on passengers arriving from designated "high-risk" countries beginning July 25. From 0001 July 23, officials are requiring individuals to wear protective face coverings in all indoor public areas, including shopping centers and supermarkets. However, the measure does not apply to office spaces. Residents also must wear face coverings on all forms of public transport. Public gatherings of more than four people remain banned.

Nonessential businesses, such as bars, gyms, cinemas, and amusement parks, will stay closed through at least July 28. Dine-in services remain suspended in restaurants between 1800-0500 daily, with only carry-out service being allowed during these hours. The government has also suspended classes for most students in the territory.

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) is 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
All nonresident foreign nationals remain prohibited from entering or transiting the territory. 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 have permitted 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.

Starting July 25, all passengers arriving from specified "high-risk" countries, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Africa, must produce proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 before traveling to Hong Kong; such tests must be taken no more than 72 hours before flight boarding. All arrivals from specified countries will be required to undergo two-week quarantines in government-designated hotels, instead of in their own residences. These rules will also be applied to all travelers from the US and Kazakhstan from July 29.

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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