Hong Kong to Reimpose U.K. Flight Ban

From Thursday, July 1, anyone with a travel history to Britain will be barred from entering the territory.

Looking out from Terminal 1 at Hong Kong International Airport. (Photo: BA C/Unsplash)

Less than two months after lifting entry restrictions on arrivals from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong is now set to reinstate a blanket ban on incoming U.K. flights later this week. The prohibition was first imposed between late December 2020 and early May, but it was eventually dropped when Britain’s vaccine rollout caused a dramatic fall in the number of cases and deaths. But recent weeks have seen an exponential growth of infections attributed to the highly infectious Delta variant. Over the weekend, the daily number of new coronavirus cases in the U.K. surged to more than 18,000, the highest number since early February.

Starting at midnight on Thursday, July 1, all passenger flights from Britain will be prohibited from landing in Hong Kong, and the U.K. will be categorized as an “extremely high-risk” place for Covid-19 transmission, joining the likes of Brazil, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, and most recently, Indonesia. Any traveler who has spent more than two hours in the U.K. in the previous 21 days will be denied entry to Hong Kong; this is regardless of their residency status in the Chinese-ruled territory.

The move was announced by government officials yesterday evening after Britain crossed the permissible threshold for imported cases involving mutated strains of the virus. Hong Kong health authorities say they will invoke a “place-specific flight suspension mechanism” if 10 or more passengers from a given country are found to carry more infectious variants within a seven-day period, whether through tests conducted on arrival or in hotel quarantine.

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