BUSINESS Chinese tourist hotspot Sanya imposes COVID lockdown

Chinese tourist hotspot Sanya imposes COVID lockdown


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SHANGHAI (AP) — The southern Chinese resort city of Sanya imposed a lockdown Saturday and restricted transport links to try to stem an outbreak of COVID-19 that comes as some 80,000 visitors were enjoying its beaches in high season.

The restrictions came into effect at 0600 hours (2200 GMT) after authorities said the COVID-19 situation was “very serious” and the movement of people was restricted.

Authorities did not say when the measures might be lifted, but said tourists wanting to leave the city, which is on Hainan Island, will need to show five negative PCR tests over seven days.

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“We urge the general public and tourists to understand and lend their support,” officials said in a statement on the city government’s WeChat account.

The city reported 263 COVID cases on Friday, up from 11 two days earlier. Authorities said they had detected Omicron’s BA.5.1.3 subvariant.

The closure comes at peak tourist season in the city, which is also known for its duty-free shopping and is home to several high-end hotels run by international companies, including IHG and Marriott International.

Deputy Mayor He Shigang told state broadcaster CCTV there were some 80,000 tourists in the city, but the cases were mainly among residents.

Officials told a news conference later on Saturday that tourists would get half-price hotels if they had to extend their stays.

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“It really sucks,” said Micah Hostetter, a Shanghai-based business consultant who was scheduled to leave Sunday after a week-long stay.

“We don’t know how long we’ll be here, we hope it won’t be that long,” said Hostetter, who endured nearly two-and-a-half months of lockdown in Shanghai earlier this year.

Sales of train tickets from Sanya have been suspended, CCTV reported, citing the national carrier, and more than 80% of flights to and from Sanya have been cancelled, according to data provider Variflight.

The city began imposing lockdown measures in some places on Thursday. More places, including its duty-free malls, which are popular with Chinese shoppers unable to travel abroad, were closed on Friday. (Reporting by Brenda Goh, additional reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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