Hong Kong is “on the verge” of another COVID-19 outbreak as cases of the Omicron variant continue to surge, city leader Carrie Lam said at a recent press conference.
As such, local authorities have announced new restrictions, which includes a two-week ban on passenger flights from Canada, the United States, Australia, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Great Britain.
The ban will take effect Sunday (Jan. 9) and continue until Jan. 21, reports say.
Similar to what’s happening in some Canadian provinces, Hong Kong also announced that restaurant dining will be forbidden after 6 p.m. for two weeks starting Friday. Gaming arcades, bars and beauty salons will also be ordered to close during that period.
Omicron clusters have surfaced in Hong Kong in recent weeks and many cases are believed to be linked to Cathay Pacific crew members who broke isolation rules and dined at local restaurants and bars before testing positive, reports the Associated Press.
Cruise ship held for testing
Hong Kong reported 114 Omicron variant cases on Tuesday (Jan. 4) and local officials are acting quickly to halt the spread of the highly-contagious COVID-19 variant.
That included holding some 2,500 passengers on a cruise ship in Hong Kong on Wednesday (Jan. 5) for COVID testing after authorities said nine passengers were linked to Omicron cases.
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, which departed Sunday on a “cruise to nowhere,” was ordered to return one day early on Wednesday, according to a government statement.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean said that the nine guests were isolated on the ship and all tested negative, adding that guests on board the ship would receive a 25 per cent refund on their fare.
The ship’s next sailing on Thursday was also cancelled because the crew must undergo testing. Those guests will also receive a full refund, AP reported.