Hong Kong is closer to China than the U.S. in its loss of freedoms as well as its coronavirus response. In July an outbreak was (perhaps erroneously) blamed on foreign airline crew, exempt from quarantine, visiting the city. Most countries exempt airline crew from quarantine requirements, but Hong Kong no longer does, requiring testing on arrival and sequestering themselves from locals.
Shortly after new rules were imposed FedEx pilots called for a halt to operations to and from Hong Kong while UPS pilots sought the right to opt out of Bangkok assignments.
A group of British Airways flight attendants have found themselves ensnared in Hong Kong’s ever-changing rules, held in government quarantine for 14 days.
Flight Attendant Ellie Freeman Worked BA Flight 31
One flight attendant tested positive on arrival. That person is supposed to be taken to a medical facility. But even though other crewmembers tested negative, BA employees “were marched from their hotel and taken to a [government quarantine] compound.” Oddly, pilots from the Monday’s flight BA31 were allowed to return to London.
- The flight attendant who tested positive is asymptomatic, and “is locked in with CCTV watching her.”
- The rest of the cabin crew are being held in a compound that the British Airways pilots union says has “dangerous electrical wiring and blocked fire escapes.” Members of the Mixed Fleet crew were taken from the SkyCity Marriott near the airport.
Footage shared to social media by Ellie Freeman, a stewardess currently confined to the “prison-like” isolation centre, shows the basic bedrooms allocated to staff equipped with a tiny bathroom housing a shower head and a plastic tub for bathing.
……In a rant on Snapchat she told how she had been given just 30 minutes notice to pack essentials before crew were carted off to “a literal concentration camp”.
Staff were fed cups of noodles and crackers and had to select their fortnight’s worth of meals from a grim menu featuring mainly boiled eggs and vegetables.
- Quarantine expenses are on the cabin crew, “a single sanitary towel” costs ~ US$8. However “[a]irline executives have arranged for toiletries and pyjamas to be sent” to them.
Quarantine Room, Credit: Ellie Freeman, Snapchat
Ellie Freeman, Snapchat
According to British Airways shrugs,
We are in regular contact with our crew who are quarantining in line with local Covid regulations, and providing extra supplies to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
We work closely with governments in every country we fly to, and will always put the safety and wellbeing of our teams and customers at the heart of everything we do.
I’ve written for months that the biggest risk in travel now is regime uncertainty. Rules can change from the time you plan a trip to when it comes time to travel. That’s true both for where you’re going, and for where you’ll return to – for instance a New Yorker may find that while they’re gone the place they’re staying is added to a quarantine list, requiring 14 days at home when they come back.
In Hong Kong quarantine isn’t 14 days at home, or even in a hotel as in Hawaii. It’s in a monitored government facility. And you can wind up there even if you don’t have Covid-19, merely traveling with someone who does.