Air passengers from so-called Group A, or designated high-risk countries, are set to be banned from transiting through Hong Kong International Airport, according to people familiar with the matter.

t’s another move in the financial hub’s aggressive effort to shield itself from omicron. The list of high-risk countries currently includes Ireland.

Airport officials recently briefed carriers about the plan, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details aren’t yet public. The suspension will start on January 15 and run through February 14, though the end date will be subject to review, one of the people said. Procedures for how the ban will operate are still to be laid out, another person said.

While traffic volumes are thin now due to the pandemic, the move is likely to disproportionately affect Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the city’s flagship carrier that handles the vast majority of passenger transfers.

Prior to Covid, Hong Kong was a busy hub for transits from mainland China, Taiwan and several other areas in the region, as well as long hauls such as the US and UK.

Hong Kong is grappling with a relatively small outbreak of the omicron variant in the community, imposing fresh curbs on a broad range of activities as it strives to stick to a zero-tolerance Covid strategy.

The government said Tuesday that in-person classes at kindergartens and primary schools would be suspended from Friday until after the Lunar New Year holidays next month.

There are around 150 countries and territories in Hong Kong’s Group A list, including the eight nations that have specific route flight bans in place due to Covid cases on board. Those eight are Australia, Canada, France, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, the UK and the US.

Hong Kong prohibited all passenger airport transfers in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, but gradually resumed them in the subsequent months, apart from into mainland China.

While travel restrictions have severely restricted traffic throughout the Covid crisis, Cathay had said it was experiencing healthy demand on transit flights.

The suspension on passenger transfer services won’t apply to diplomats, government officials and athletes and staff participating in the Winter Olympics in Beijing, according to the people.

The 2022 Winter Olympics start on February 4.

“We are in close communication with the airport community on measures to strengthen infection control at the airport,” Airport Authority Hong Kong said in an emailed statement.

In other travel news, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department has advised against travel to Canada as the Omicron variant spreads.

Reuters has also reported that China ordered the cancellation of more than two dozen scheduled flights from the United States in recent weeks after numerous passengers tested positive for Covid-19 after arrival.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Get notified of the best deals on our WordPress themes.

You May Also Like

Max Rocha: ‘A lot of chefs are alcoholics. I’ve worked in restaurants where they have to put salt in the cooking wine so people don’t drink it’

There’s a familiar figure with long grey hair puffing on a cigarillo…

Cut Molly-Mae Hague some slack – she’s a 22-year-old Instagram star, not an economist

Celebrities talking about ‘graft’ is nothing new. You will rarely, if ever,…

Managing IBS: ‘The cramping and diarrhoea stopped, the bloating disappeared. I lost 10lbs and my energy returned’

We all know what it feels like to have stomach cramps. They…

The art of coping week two: Thoughts are not facts and feelings don’t predict the future

Every single day, we tell ourselves a story. A story constructed of…