Hong Kong Extends Travel Ban Until Further Notice

Hong Kong is extending its travel ban for non-residents as it keeps up its efforts to contain COVID-19. This travel ban also extends the suspension of transit flights until further notice, which has been a devastating blow to its main carrier, Cathay Pacific. The Chinese special administrative region has seen a surge of coronavirus infections in the city.

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Normally a huge East Asian travel hub, Hong Kong International Airport finds itself much emptier than normal these days due to travel restrictions. Photo: Getty Images

“In light of the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Hong Kong SAR government has implemented the following travel restrictions for passengers arriving in and transiting through Hong Kong.” – Cathay Pacific

Hong Kong’s travel restrictions

Entry restrictions have been in place since 25 March, allowing only Hong Kong residents with certain documents to enter the region. These include documents such as a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card, Hong Kong passport, or British National (Overseas) passport (with “right of abode” in Hong Kong). Non-Hong Kong residents have been denied entry into Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government has gone a step further and banned passengers from being able to transit through Hong Kong International Airport. In addition to this, all sea-to-air ferry services between Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area have been suspended.

According to Travel News Asia, certain exemptions are in place. These include:

  • Crew members of aircraft who need to commute to and from foreign places for the performance of necessary duties or crew members of goods vessels;
  • Government officials carrying out government duties including personnel of consular posts;
  • Personnel engaged in anti-epidemic work endorsed by the HKSAR Government; and
  • Spouses and minor children of Hong Kong residents.
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Many Cathay Pacific planes have been grounded with the imposition of this travel ban. Photo: Getty Images

Hong Kong operating repatriation flights

The special administrative region is continuing its efforts to repatriate its citizens. In fact, on April 5th, state media reports that a total of 65 Hong Kong residents arrived home from Peru after taking chartered flights arranged by the government. A special flight took citizens and residents from Lima to London. From there, travelers took an ordinary connecting flight to Hong Kong.

Upon arrival, travelers went to the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection’s testing center, located at AsiaWorld-Expo. While awaiting the results, travelers are being held in quarantine. If these travelers test negative, they will be able to return home or proceed to a designated place to undergo a compulsory 14-day quarantine.

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Even though travel bans are in place, Cathay Pacific is still running a handful of services. Photo: Getty

Conclusion

While everyone would like to know when these restrictions will end, the answer from many governments and health officials remains the same as they take a wait-and-see approach.

Restrictions will not lift until new cases are in decline and the spread of the virus comes to a halt. In fact, an even more cautious approach might be to relax restrictions only after several days or weeks with no new cases.

Has your travel to or from Hong Kong been impacted by the government’s decision? Let us know in the comments.

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