Hong Kong is looking over plans that would make it mandatory for all arriving airline crews to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days. These talks have emerged amid a recent outbreak of coronavirus in the special administrative region.
Previously, crew members have been exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirements for those entering the region. However, there have been concerns over the number of rising virus cases during the area’s third wave.
The South China Morning Post reports that the government is considering requiring pilots and flight attendants to quarantine if they stay in Hong Kong for more than two hours. This ruling would also affect those that live locally. There could also be repeated testing as part of this move.
Currently, all foreign crews are given private transport to hotels where they have to isolate themselves while they are in Hong Kong. They also have to pass a COVID-19 test before flying in. Meanwhile, local crew members are being tested when they arrive. They then have to stay in a hotel room for 24 hours to await the results.
This is already an intricate process that can make it complicated for airlines to plan services during such a sensitive climate. Therefore, the introduction of mandatory 14-day quarantines would have a significant impact on operations with so many complex factors to consider.
With officials looking to toughen up measures during this wave, Hong Kong’s airport workers will be required to undergo mandatory testing from February. This morning, airport management called a meeting to address the rise of virus cases.
Perhaps the rollout of the vaccine against the virus will change requirements over the next few months. Certain countries are already reducing restrictions for those that have been vaccinated. Fellow Asia-Pacific economic hub Singapore is prioritizing the aviation market when it comes to these efforts. The country’s airline employees are being offered the vaccine first. So, after more people are certified, requirements may change in Hong Kong this year.
The challenges continue
Altogether, carriers across the globe are once again facing considerable challenges when it comes to international travel. Airlines, workers, and passengers will undoubtedly be hoping for improved conditions as the year progresses.
Simple Flying reached out to Cathay Pacific for comment on the prospect of Hong Kong introducing 14-day quarantines for crew members. However, the airline declined to comment on the report at this time.