Hong Kong: Hong Kong announced a ban on passengers from more than 150 nations transiting its airport on Friday as China ramps up strict anti-virus travel measures ahead of the Winter Olympics.
The move deepens Hong Kong’s global isolation and comes as Beijing battles to stamp out a flurry of Delta and Omicron outbreaks in the only major economy still pursuing a staunch zero-Covid strategy.
Like mainland China, Hong Kong has maintained some of the world’s harshest measures throughout the pandemic — including weeks-long quarantines, targeted lockdowns and mass testing.
The Chinese business hub ranks territories into categories based on how widespread their Covid-19 infections are, with 153 countries currently classified as Group A — from which arrivals must spend 21 days in quarantine.
Hong Kong’s airport said anyone who has spent time in the last three weeks in any of those countries would be banned from transiting from Sunday.
Eight Group A countries — Australia, Canada, France, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Britain and the United States — are already banned entirely from arriving in Hong Kong.
The city is battling a small outbreak of the Omicron variant that began with returning Cathay Pacific flight crew who breached home quarantine rules.
It has reimposed strict social distancing rules, including closing gyms and halting restaurant dining after 6 pm, and has said Cathay Pacific might face legal action.
Cathay Pacific is already flying only a fraction of its pre-pandemic routes and many of its long-haul flights transit through its home city.
Other airlines have dramatically scaled back routes to Hong Kong or begun avoiding it all together because of the quarantine rules.
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