Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Officials in Hong Kong, China, extend social distancing restrictions through at least April 23. Entry ban for foreign nationals ongoing.

This alert affects Hong Kong SAR

This alert began 08 Apr 2020 10:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Hong Kong (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Heightened security, mandatory quarantine measures, partial border closure, business and transport disruptions

Hong Kong has extended social distancing restrictions in the territory through at least April 23 amid ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Officials have banned public gatherings of more than four people, with certain exceptions, including weddings, funerals, and government functions. Gyms, cinemas, saunas, bars, beauty shops, massage parlors, and banquet halls will remain closed during the period. Restaurants must comply with spacing and capacity restrictions and conduct temperature checks on patrons. Those found violating the orders could face a fine of HKD 50,000 (USD 6,450) and six months in jail.

Hong Kong continues to restrict land border crossings with mainland China to the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint and along 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, though airlines have significantly reduced flights due to decreased demand, and further cancellations are likely.

Many businesses are implementing work-from-home policies. Increased employee absenteeism will very likely continue, particularly for employees who reside in mainland China. Schools remain closed through at least April 20, though officials have indicated that they will likely extend the closures.

Travel Restrictions
Authorities have extended a ban on all nonresident foreign nationals from entering the territory indefinitely as of April 8. Travelers from Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China may enter Hong Kong, provided they have no recent travel history elsewhere. Arriving passengers from these areas, including Hong Kong residents, will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entry into Hong Kong. Several countries have imposed precautionary restrictions on travelers from Hong Kong.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted in place correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

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.

World Health Organisation (WHO):