They survived lockdown in Shanghai, only to be trapped again in Hainan

(CNN) – “I chose to come to Sanya because the Covid restrictions are more relaxed than in Shanghai,” said Li Zefeng, an engineer who lives in China’s largest city.

But, like many others who arrive on the resort island off the coast of South China, he soon eats his words.

Hainan Province is often called China’s equivalent of Hawaii Or the Maldives — think of gorgeous stretches of beach, luxurious hotels with world-class amenities, and an escape from the stresses of everyday life.

However, the holiday atmosphere took a hit last week, when 1,200 people in the resort hub of Sanya tested positive for the coronavirus.

For many of these travelers, this means not only calling family and changing their travel plans, but dealing with a case of déjà vu — many visiting Henan were seeking relief from the strict lockdown in Shanghai.

Once cases of Covid were detected in Hainan, action was swift.

The local government shut down the city of Sanya, home to about 1 million residents in addition to 80,000 tourists. Flights from the island were cancelled, public transport was shut down and many tourists were confined to their hotels.

The silver lining may be an excuse to spend some more time on the beach, although tourists find that they are expected to pay 50% of the room rate at their resorts, which not everyone can afford. And that didn’t include extra expenses like meals or missed work expenses.

Under the lockdown, visitors were told they would have to stay on the island for a full week and show proof of five negative Covid tests before being allowed to leave.

Despite the local government saying that all those affected by the lockdown will receive hotel and food assistance, some have complained on social media sites such as Weibo that the assistance is not enough.

With China’s borders essentially closed, many Chinese have opted for domestic travel since the start of the pandemic, and Hainan – with its sun, sand and duty-free shopping – has been one of the most popular destinations.

CNN’s Nectar Gan contributed reporting.

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