Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Officials extend restrictions in Hong Kong, China, through July 28. Entry ban for most foreign nationals, quarantine measures ongoing.
- Alert Begins: 20 Jul 2020 05:08 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 28 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
Hong Kong officials have further enhanced social distancing and business restrictions as of July 20 amid an ongoing rise in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the territory. Authorities plan to expand a requirement to wear a facemask to all indoor public areas, including shopping centers, in the coming days. However, the measure would not apply to office spaces. Residents already must wear masks on all forms of public transport. Public gatherings of more than four people are banned.
The government has also extended closures for nonessential businesses, such as bars, gyms, cinemas, and amusement parks, through July 28. The extension also applies to restaurants, where officials have halted dine-in services 1800-0500 daily; only carry-out allowed during the overnight controls. No more than four people can sit at tables during open hours. Officials previously suspended psychiatric visits and nonemergency senior citizen care at public hospitals. 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) 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.
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 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.
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.
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.