Hong Kong (precautions)Back to Forum
I’ve asked those there about whether I will be stared at for not wearing a mask, and the answer seems to be…. no … at least in Central and Kowloon.
Since then I have got a mask, from a decorator friend, so I’ll have that in my pocket if people start to stare.
A lot of restaurants seem to be closed (in hotels) which is understandable if some of the hotels are running at 10-20% occupancy.
I suppose my main concern is if the UK advice changes while I’m out there and then I fly back to the UK and am put in quarantine, either self-imposed (as in, forced to be) or I’m sent to The Wirrall!
But work is work…
Thats my concern as well. I fly to SGN via HKG (from LHR) on Monday. I usually stay the night in HK before getting the morning CX to SGN but this time doing a strait thru transit. After the mess that the Vn govt made last weekend, cancelling HK flights for 24 hrs I am half expecting to get to HK to find my connect cancelled. Add to that a real risk of facing qurantine when coming back to Uk in 3 weeks is giving me more pause for thought than the virus itself. As for masks it does seem that social contract is the thing rather than its ability to stop catching it. I am travelling with a suitcase full of them and IR temperature probes, some to give to a friend who works at HKG and can pick them up airside and the rest for staff in Vietnam where i face the real problem of absenteeism due to a shortage of them there. fortunatly i got mine before prices went crazy in the UK but now its absolute profiteering in the Uk , if you can even get them! I am a free market capitalist but one thing china has got right is punishing anyone caught gouging the market on masks and sanitizers7 Feb 2020
The Memsahib and I went shopping earlier today. In contrast to the situation earlier this week, I don’t think I saw a single person who wasn’t wearing a mask.
Panic-buying has set in. Virtually all supplies of tissues – and particular toilet tissue – have been exhausted. I haven’t seen masks, hand sanitisers, wet wipes, latex gloves or the like anywhere for at least a week now (except at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club buffet where they had latex gloves available for members). The supermarket shelves are virtually clear of noodles, and rice is in increasingly short supply. In fact, quite a lot of supermarket shelves (not just these products but others too) are empty. It’s all a bit ridiculous (and not a little pathetic).
We have it on fairly good authority that the Conrad Hotel has single-digit occupancy, and I am sure they are not alone. The hospitality industry is really suffering. A lot of shops have just not bothered to re-open after Chinese New Year. CX have asked staff to take unpaid leave. I cannot help but wonder if HX will now sink without trace – they were in trouble before, but with PRC flights being cut I cannot see how they can survive for long.
I stand by my earlier statement that HK will survive, but for a lot of businesses times are definitely tough, and the general environment is a bit strained.
Not helped by the Government, of course. They have announced compulsory 14-day quarantine for people coming from China, but gave two days’ notice of it happening. Cue massive influx of people trying to avoid the quarantine (rolls eyes) which, incidentally, won’t apply to workers in the foodstuff or supplies industry coming across the border. So the very people who are handling products originating in China, and which are going to be widely distributed throughout the populace (bearing in mind that the virus can survive on surfaces for several days, by all accounts), will NOT be quarantined. The idiocy simply beggars belief. It took me about two seconds to work out that a better system would be to have trucks etc stopped at the border and disinfected, and replacement HK-based drivers/crew (all of whom have been checked for fever and other symptoms) installed for the onward journey within HK. However, this is clearly far too sophisticated for anyone dim enough to be employed by the Government.
FWIW the Government have an on-line map showing infections, quarantine sites, hospitals and statistics. It has a slight morbid fascination, and can be found here7 Feb 2020
I’m currently based in HK (Work in Central and live in Wan Chai)
If you are in public even briefly without a mask, you will be stared at. While the effectiveness of masks are questioned in protecting the user, its part of the social contract that you will wear one. It expected and it makes people feel more comfortable. If you sneeze it does stop the spread of a common cold/flu which similar symptoms as the Coronavirus and as you can imagine it causes concern.
I would highly recommend that you bring a supply of masks. Your colleagues and business partners will appreciate them. If you are travelling with checked luggage, a supply of alcohol gel and wipes will go down better than any corporate gift. The shelves are bare here in HK and with much of these items coming from the PRC, we are not sure when they will be replenished and if they are will people trust PRC made masks?
I was in MnS food section in Central the other day and the only people without masks were an American (I make the point to emphasise that it was a non-local), his baby and his heavily pregnant wife. Everyone was very patently giving them an extremely wide berth.10 Feb 2020
Got a video sent to me by a friend who’s HK-based but works in Shenzen. He filmed the border crossing with the PRC 30 minutes to go before it was closed: utter pandemonium.
We are just about to discover just how many PRC-sourced components and sub-assemblies go into finished goods – because there is going to be a several month hiatus across much of the Chinese economy if my HK-based friend is anything to go by. They have shuttered the factory, told the workforce to stay wherever they are in China and not to return until the epidemic has run its course. The impact on Chinese (and global) GDP could be quite substantial. This is very possibly going to become the most visible and humiliating embarrassment of Xi Jinping’s career. Which probably explains why he has gone to graund and is not appearing or being mentioned in any CCTV broadcast pieces on the epidemic.
Take care of yourself.10 Feb 2020
Our information this morning is rather different that the above
All of the China factories (approx 25) with which we deal including our own either opened today or due to local government inspections will open tomorrow or Wednesday.
To be sure that this was not some sort of anomaly I asked a couple of business friends in different industries who confirmed that ‘most’ of their suppliers were opening this week.
Shipments are moving almost normally also we have over 20 containers moving this week and there is no substantial disruption with government document processing, logistic suppliers are vessels.10 Feb 2020
Well, I’m here now.
And… yes, you are right, you need a mask.
Need in the sense of, people expect you to wear one, especially on the MTR.
I didn’t at first, but then put one on, especially since one young man next to me on the MTR was wearing a full gas mask!
I also became paranoid that I might sneeze (dust, air-conditioning etc…) and people would not have found that funny.
You can argue whether it makes any difference, but since everyone else is wearing one…
Here in the office, people then remove them. And of course in restaurants people remove them to eat… although most of the restaurants are either closed or not very busy, since people are either at home, or get the food and then take it back to their desks.
And they’ve just cancelled the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which is a great shame. I enjoy that each year.
Let’s hope things get back to normal, though judging by the SCMp newspaper this morning, it won’t happen anytime soon.
Best wishes, Tom10 Feb 2020
My South china Factory reopened today, I was due to be there but am going to go straight through to the Vietnam one instead as I do not want to get stuck on the mainland or face a 14 day lock up. This is having a severe impact on supply chains and costs across the globe which will continue for the next 2 months at least. We restart with just 20% of the workforce as others cannot get transport out of their own cities due to local restrictions in other provinces. I am also looking at moving all our FG inventory due to be used by customers in the next 2 months out of China and into either HK or local hubs elsewhere in the world. My Vietnam factory takes at least 70% of its supply from the PRC so there is also a knock on there as many of those suppliers have not reopened and are staying closed for another week. On the other hand the ever constant push I get to be more JIT from my customers supply chain “experts” , to reduce my costs, ergo their buy price, will go quiet for some time now as my inventory holdings will keep them going for some time, assuming their other suppliers ignored their “advise” a certain amount of schadenfreude.
Now I wonder if my LHR-HKG flight is going to be delayed today…………10 Feb 2020
Exactly. As it stands if you go to the Mainland and then want to go somewhere else, then either you can’t, or will be quarantined.
I was asked whether I’d visited the Mainland in the last 14 days when coming in to Hong Kong, and then they checked the passport anyway.
You are temperature-checked at the airport (nothing new there), but then also at the HK hotel (a sort of gun like thing to the forehead).10 Feb 2020
Tom, thanks for the updates
We are transiting with CX from AKL via HKG to Europe this weekend. For love nor money are any sort of masks available here in NZ and I wondered if you (or others) has thoughts as to whether going maskless was acceptable in HKIA and in CX lounges? Are they available at the airport? Most pharmacies here have signs on the doors “No masks available here” so clearly we are not alone in searching….10 Feb 2020
Tom, they won’t stop you gong into the lounge just because you aren’t wearing a mask, although people might give you a wide berth. Forget about buying masks at HK Airport – even if a shop got some stock it would be sold out within minutes.10 Feb 2020
I have taken heed of the available well documented information that 99% of the non surgical masks available (most masks) offer no protection against this virus.
At least of europeans that I see on the streets are not wearing masks nore are an increasing number of younger locals. (possibly of course because they don’t have access).
I take a mask with me and don it in situations where I want to protect the sensibilities of others but otherwise see absolutely no point.11 Feb 2020
Having lived through SARS in Singapore and arguably the coronavirus is less “deadly”, if the reports I am reading are correct, I am taking a sanguine view of this. I will be travelling through HKG in a couple of weeks then Singapore and Vietnam. In the 35 years of global international travel I have yet to contract any illness which might mean I have been lucky. So just getting on with my life and mindful of what is going on.
1 user thanked author for this post.11 Feb 2020
I just want to ask a question if I may please. My wife and myself are due to travel to HKG at the end of this month, to celebrate my 65th birthday. We are coming to the conclusion that there may be little point in making the journey as many places may be closed, restrictions etc.Then there is the risk of having to go into hiding for 14 days or longer when we return.
We are due to fly with Lufthansa, but no sign that there are offering any flexibility, we may face losing our fares. We had wonderful deals in business.
Is there any point in travelling to Hkg at the moment, when the trip is only for a holiday? Advice, especially from those close to the ground, would be really appreciated.
Thanks in advance.11 Feb 2020
In the same boat, although flying with BA rather than Lufthansa and not until the last week in March.
And as a frequent visitor I’m not bothered about the touristy stuff as I’ve already done it all.
But, I’d recommend checking out key tourist attraction websites to get a feel of what’s going on. I’ve kept an eye on the HK 7’s website to monitor how serious it is, as it’s probably the biggest event held in HK with masses of people needing managed. And at the moment its business as usual !
And if LH are inflexible, I’d consider the silver lining. No queues at places like the Peak Tram or at Tung Chung . so maybe a blessing in disguise : )11 Feb 2020
The fourteen day compulsory quarantine is only for all arrivals from mainland China, so unless you display high temperature and/or symptoms of sickness at HKG arrivals, you needn’t worry.
HKG is still active and functioning, although crowded areas & gatherings are being given a wide berth. Even as of today, the number of those infected is a miniscule percent of the population. And while one can’t predict the situation at the end of the month, as of today you should be okay.
Given that LH can’t/won’t change your ticket, I’d say you should make the trip.11 Feb 2020