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Hong Kong to ban British flights

Flights from London to Hong Kong have again been cancelled by Hong Kong government.

Hong Kong government has announced it is to ban all flights from the United Kingdom from landing in the city.

In a move that was expected but dreaded by many, the Hong Kong government reclassified the United Kingdom as an ‘extremely high-risk’ country earlier this week, its highest rating, and triggered its second pandemic-related London flight ban.

The ban will come into force on July 1 and will affect anybody who has spent more than two hours in Britain in the previous 21 days.

The strict ruling follows reports of rising Covid-19 infection numbers in the UK, particularly of the Delta variant. With just 18% of the Asian hub fully vaccinated, authorities fear that a break-out of the more transmissible variant would devastate the city.

It comes at the worst possible time for many Hong Kong families as overseas boarding school children and older students prepare to fly back home to Hong Kong for the long summer break. Many have been left stranded and scrambling for last minute flights. To compound the issue, quarantine hotels have been fully booked in the territory for many weeks. Hong Kong has also changed its test-on-departure regulations, now requiring a full PCR test rather than the LAMP test, which was readily available at Heathrow airport through Collinson.

In something of a tone-deaf remark, Joseph Tsang for Hong Kong’s Medical Association told Hong Kong's RTHK broadcasting company that the move comes “just in time to stop Hong Kong residents returning to the city over the summer holidays.”

He continued, “This interim measure has to be revised or reviewed at intervals to make sure the banning of UK flights won’t affect our citizens very much.”

The sticking point is that Hong Kong and the UK are at extreme ends of the Covid management spectrum. While Britain’s world-leading vaccination roll-out means it has almost reached herd immunity, Hong Kong has struggled to encourage its residents to roll up their sleeves. Although Britain’s case numbers soared to more than 20,000 yesterday, fatalities remain extremely low. The country was reporting just three deaths in patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 28 days. While Britain moves ahead towards a full reopening in mid-July, Hong Kong is left ramping up its border lockdown measures further still.

This is the second time Hong Kong has banned UK flights. A previous exclusion ran from December until May this year and stranded residents were forced to make their way home via a third country for a 21 day ‘wash out’.

Hong Kong flight bans are already in place for countries including Indonesia, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines.

British Airways released a statement today asking affected passengers to contact or see Manage My Booking on or the BA app. “We apologise to any customers affected by the temporary suspension of the London to Hong Kong route and will offer them a range of options including a full refund, rebooking, or a voucher. We are naturally disappointed by the Hong Kong government’s decision… Our Hong Kong to London service will continue to operate on a daily basis.”

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