On January 7th, Hong Kong’s government decided to extend its ban on flights from the UK and South Africa for at least another two weeks. The rule specifically prohibits any person having spent more than two hours in either country during the three weeks prior from boarding any plane for Hong Kong. The government said an extension was necessary as several imported cases of the new strains have already been detected.
Flights to Hong Kong from the UK were initially halted on December 22nd, with the aim of keeping the more infectious strain of the virus out. Flights from South Africa were also banned on December 25th.
Meanwhile, it is not only direct flights that are banned. Any person having spent more than two hours in either the UK or South Africa over the past 21 days is prohibited from boarding any flight to Hong Kong. On Thursday, the government decided to extend the measures and said it would review the situation every two weeks.
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Responsibility to protect residents
Thus far, officials say, there have been 15 imported cases of the new highly transmittable variant of the virus from the UK and two of the strain from South Africa. This, they state, is the reason behind the extension of the ban. A spokesperson for the government said in a statement seen by Simple Flying,
“The Government recognizes that the above requirement is very stringent and may inevitably affect the return journey of a number of Hong Kong residents in the UK or South Africa. However, the Government has the responsibility to guard against the importation of COVID-19 cases, and the new virus variant in particular, in order to protect the well-being of Hong Kong residents.”
Cathay will fly to London
Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific has extended its cancellations of flights from the UK to Hong Kong until January 25th. However, it will resume passenger services from Hong Kong to London Heathrow on January 12th.
The airline intends to operate seven more flights to the UK capital up until January 24th. Meanwhile, it has canceled a planned service to Manchester on January 15th.
Cathay’s crew will not be allowed to exit the plane at Heathrow but will instead continue on to Amsterdam so as not to have any contact with airport staff in the UK, the South China Morning Post reports.
Extension also applies to quarantine
The extension also applies to Hong Kong’s stringent quarantine measures for anyone arriving from outside of China. Extended overnight on December 25th, the shift from two to three weeks in one of the city’s 36 designated quarantine hotels sent travelers’ plans into total disarray. This measure will also be subject to review every two weeks going forward.
Have you or anyone you know been affected by Hong Kong’s flight bans or quarantine measures? Do you think the regulations are reasonable? Let us know in the comments.