Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities to further ease business restrictions in Hong Kong, China, from May 29. Group limits in effect until June 4. Entry ban ongoing.

This alert affects Hong Kong SAR

This alert began 26 May 2020 04:47 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Jun 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

Summary
The government will lift restrictions on more businesses, including nightclubs, event venues, and karaoke lounges, from 0001 May 29, amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Officials previously reduced restrictions on leisure facilities. All venues must continue to enforce social-distancing measures for patrons. Restaurants are allowed to seat up to eight people, while bars are operating at half capacity and seat no more than four people per table. Businesses are required to 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. The government continues to ban groups of more than eight people through June 4.

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, and authorities will allow transit flights to resume at the airport beginning June 1. Airlines have significantly reduced flights due to decreased demand, and further cancellations are likely.

Increased employee absenteeism will very likely continue, particularly for employees who reside in mainland China. Many businesses are implementing work-from-home policies and splitting teams to increase social distancing. Schools will begin to reopen May 27 for senior secondary students, with younger secondary students scheduled to return to classes June 8 and 15.

Travel Restrictions

A ban on all nonresident foreign nationals from entering or transiting the territory remains in place indefinitely. 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 until at least June 7. 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.

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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