Holidaymakers trapped in China’s latest Covid lockdown

However, since the weekend, what started out as a relaxing getaway has turned into a stressful travel nightmare for thousands of vacationers, who have been caught up in a sudden lockdown imposed by authorities to curb the surge. covid outburst

Driven by the highly infectious Omicron subvariant — which officials blame on contact with foreign seafood vendors at a fishing port — the outbreak has infected more than 1,200 people in Sanya since Aug. 1. It has also spread to dozens of other cities and counties. Hainan, infecting more than 200 others.

This is a major outbreak by the standards of China’s zero-covid policy, which aims to quickly quell local flareups with snap lockdowns, mass testing, extensive contact tracing and quarantine.

On Saturday, the Sanya government hastily shut down the city of one million people, including about 80,000 tourists. Visitors wishing to leave must show five negative Covid tests taken within seven days, and officials did not specify when the measures would be lifted.

Public transport was suspended, the movement of people in the city was restricted to emergency services and transport links were halted.

More than 80% of flights departing from Sanya were canceled on Saturday, according to data from flight tracking company Veriflight. All trains leaving the city have also been cancelled, state broadcaster CCTV said on Saturday.

The sudden cancellation of the flight created a chaotic scene at the airport on Saturday, when some passengers who had already boarded Ordered to land the planeAccording to state media reports.

A video widely circulated on Chinese social media shows a local officer trying in vain to calm dozens of frustrated passengers outside an airport police station.

Speaking into a megaphone, the official assured that the government would provide free meals and hotel accommodation to passengers stranded at the airport, as a ring of police officers stood around him and pushed back the crowd.

“I want to go home! Go home! Go home!” The crowd chanted in response.

Stays forced

China’s borders have been closed to international tourists since the start of the pandemic, meaning tourist hotspots like Sanya are more dependent on domestic travelers.

The Sanya government said on Saturday that tourists with canceled flights can book hotel rooms at discounted rates. But for some families, the forced week-long stay could still come at a heavy price – especially as the Chinese economy has been hit by zero-covid.

On Sunday, government news website The Paper reported that a family of 13 in the southwestern city of Chengdu would have to spend about $26,600 for an extra week at their five-star hotel, including more than $100 per person for lunch. Dinner buffet.

The report caused a stir on Chinese social media, with a related hashtag attracting 270 million views on China’s microblogging site Weibo as of Monday afternoon. Many comments sympathized with the family, while others questioned why they didn’t go to a cheaper hotel. After the outcry, the family said they were able to access cheaper food options at the hotel.

Other social media posts by tourists stranded in Sanya allege that some hotels have inflated their prices to force stays. In a press conference on Sunday, the Sanya government promised to look into the complaints.

More than 3,200 tourists stranded at the airport on Saturday will be provided seven-day accommodation and meals, it said. And about 5,000 workers from other parts of the country were sent to Henan to help with the Covid testing campaign, officials said.

When will it end?

For many stranded tourists, the biggest concern is whether they will be allowed to leave after seven days. They fear extending the lockdown if the number of infections increases despite the restrictions.

Schools in China are set to reopen after summer vacation in three weeks, and some companies May not allow employees to work remotely for final weeks.

Sanya Airport canceled all 418 of its flights on Monday, according to flight-tracking site VeriFlight.

Shanghai fears new lockdown as millions of Covid tests heat up

Among the stranded tourists were Shanghai residents who later went to Hainan for summer vacation Durable Earlier this year, China’s financial hub suffered a gruesome two-month lockdown.

A foreign resident from Shanghai who arrived in Sanya on July 26 said he had to leave his hotel last Thursday because the local government had demanded it as a quarantine facility. The hotel only gave him a day’s notice and left him to find alternative accommodation, he said.

In the last five days, they waited in long queues for six Covid tests, he said.

“This situation going forward is not sustainable,” said the tourist, who asked not to be named for fear of a nationalist backlash. “It’s a bit like Russian roulette as to where you go and whether the area will be locked down.”

For many travelers aware of the country’s Covid restrictions, Hainan was considered a safe destination Very few cases have been reported in the past.

Other tourist hotspots have also been hit by the sudden lockdown. last month, There were more than 2,000 tourists More than 500 infections have been trapped in the resort city of Behai in southern China after a lockdown was imposed.

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