Critical Alert


Hong Kong, China, extends COVID-19 restrictions through Nov. 5. Some measures eased from Oct. 30. Nonresident foreigners remain banned.

 

Summary
The Hong Kong government continues to implement gathering and commercial restrictions through at least Nov. 5. Authorities continue to limit public gatherings to a maximum of four people; however, officials will ease some other gathering restrictions from Oct. 30. The government will permit up to six people per table at restaurants and four people at bars and pubs. Authorities will allow such establishments to operate until 0200 daily, and entertainment businesses, including bars, amusement parks, swimming pools, and karaoke lounges, can operate at 75-percent capacity. The government will also reopen all public beaches from Oct. 30. Officials already allow up to 50 people at weddings and business meetings without food and local tour groups of up to 30 people. Religious facilities and places of worship are open with up to 50-percent capacity. Team sporting events can occur at designated facilities - including pools - above gathering limits. However, authorities continue to require residents to wear protective face coverings in all public areas and public transport until further notice.

Hong Kong is restricting land border crossings with mainland China indefinitely. Authorized travelers are only permitted entry at the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Immigration processing centers at Ocean Terminal and Kai Tak Cruise Terminal remain closed. Increased absenteeism may continue, especially for employees who work in Hong Kong but live in mainland China.

Officials are allowing some transit flights at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) if grouped in a single booking, and the connection time is less than 24 hours. Airport Authority Hong Kong is permitting transit flights originating from mainland China until further notice under the same rules; transit flights to mainland China remain banned. Airlines have significantly reduced flights due to decreased demand, and additional cancellations are likely.

Travel Restrictions
The government continues to ban all nonresident foreign nationals from entering the territory. Travelers from Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China can enter Hong Kong, provided they have no recent travel history elsewhere. As of Oct. 27, Hong Kong continues to designate Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, the UK, and the US as high-risk areas. Returning residents arriving from high-risk locations must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken within 72 hours before departure and a hotel reservation for the entire 14-day quarantine period, among other documents before boarding flights. All arriving travelers must undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival in Hong Kong and self-quarantine for two weeks. Officials may quarantine symptomatic passengers or people testing positive for COVID-19 at government-designated facilities. Authorities have exempted some mainland Chinese teachers and students and businesspeople whose activities officials deem economically beneficial to the territory, from the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Officials are maintaining quarantine measures for sea and aircrews indefinitely. Under the requirements, ships without cargo cannot exchange crews. On other ships, workers are no longer allowed to enter the territory and must travel directly to the airport after disembarking if completing their service onboard. Inbound ship crews and flight crew members will have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of departure for Hong Kong. Both airlines and shipping companies must arrange point-to-point transport for employees to limit interaction with the public.

 

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.

 

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.

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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