Driven by a highly infectious Omicron subvariant – which authorities have blamed on contact with seafood vendors outside a fishing port – the disease has infected more than 1,200 people in Sanya from August 1. Hainan, connecting more than 200 others.
It is a major blow by the standards of China’s zero-Covid policy, which aims to quickly end local flareups with strict lockdowns, mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine.
On Saturday, the Sanya government immediately locked down the city of one million people, including about 80,000 tourists. Visitors to leave must present five negative Covid tests taken in seven days, and authorities have not specified when the measures will be lifted.
Public transport was suspended, the movement of people within the city was limited to emergency services, and transport links were suspended.
More than 80% of flights leaving Sanya were canceled on Saturday, according to data from flight search company Variflight. All trains leaving the city were canceled, state broadcaster CCTV said on Saturday.
A video that has gone viral on Chinese social media shows a local official trying to calm down hundreds of panicked travelers outside the airport police station.
Speaking into a megaphone, the official promised that the government would provide free food and hotel accommodation to travelers who landed at the airport, while a ring of police stood around him. and return it to the public.
“I want to go home! Go home! Go home!” chanted the court.
China’s borders have been closed to international tourists since the outbreak began, making tourist destinations like Sanya more dependent on domestic travelers.
The Sanya government said on Saturday that tourists with canceled flights can book hotel rooms. But for some families, the long week will come at a heavy price – especially if China’s economy is zero-Covid.
On Sunday, state news website The Paper reported that a family of 13 from the southwestern city of Chengdu had to spend about $26,600 for an extra week at their five-star hotel, with fees of more than $100 per person for lunch a. party party
The report sparked a stir on Chinese social media, with a related hashtag attracting 270 million views on the microblogging site Weibo by Monday evening. Many comments expressed sympathy for the family, while others questioned why they didn’t move to a cheap hotel. After crying, the family said they were able to access simple food options at the hotel.
Other media outlets have been accused by tourists arrested in Sanya of some hotels for increasing their prices in cash on the required seats. In a press conference on Sunday, the Sanya government promised to look into the complaints.
More than 3,200 tourists who checked in at the airport on Saturday were said to be given seven days’ accommodation and food. And about 5,000 workers have been sent to Hainan from other parts of the country to help with a massive Covid testing effort, officials added.
When will it end?
For many tourists, the main concern is whether they will be allowed to leave after seven days. They fear the lockdown could be extended if the number of infections rises despite restrictions.
Schools in China are due to reopen after a three-week summer break, and some clubs It’s not possible to allow employees to work remotely for weeks at a time.
On Monday, Sanya airport canceled its 418 flights, according to Variflight airport.
Among the tourists arrested were Shanghai residents who went to Hainan for summer vacations later. patience a two-month hold on the Chinese currency earlier this year.
A foreign resident of Shanghai who arrived in Sanya on July 26 said he had to leave his hotel last Friday because it was claimed by the local government as a temporary residence. The hotel only gave him one day’s notice and left him to think of another place to stay, he said.
In the past five days, he has waited in long lines for six Covid tests, he said.
“This situation cannot continue going forward,” said the tourist, who asked not to be named for fear of a nationalist outcry. “It’s a little bit like Russian roulette where you go, and whether or not that place is going to be closed.”
For many tourists considering the country’s Covid restrictions, Hainan is considered a safe place because in the past it has been reported that there are very few cases.