Hong Kong Bans Foreigners From Even Transiting The AIrport – And Even Bans Alcohol In Bars, Because Sex

Hong Kong has joined Singapore in not only banning foreign arrivals but banning transit passenger arrivals, too, after several foreigners arriving there tested positive for COVID-19. A doctor screening inbound passengers at the airport has tested positive as well there.

Hong Kong’s confirmed cases have spiked – to about 350 – and it’s still possible to eat in a restaurant there though they’re banning serving alcohol because, in the words of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam,

“In restaurants, meals can still be served [without alcohol] … But in bars, people sometimes get intimate after drinking, and this will raise the risk of cross-infection.”

In Hong Kong those under quarantine order wear electronic bracelets. In the U.S. we aren’t even doing ‘test and trace’. Even moderate symptom people are having difficulty getting tests, and those who test positive report that they can’t even get advice on when they’re free of the virus (so may go out and spread) and don’t have their contacts traced. We also lack masks – even with Facebook donating 720,000 from their reserve (Facebook has a strategic face mask reserve! And fortunately it may be possible to re-sterilize masks).

We’re not following the model of Southeast Asian countries that are having success containing the virus, and is the reason we effectively need to shut down the economy and isolate people to slow its spread. That is a huge failure of government disease control during this crisis.

Meanwhile there are a shortage of masks, and the CDC continues to insist masks are ineffective (they also insisted that pre-symptomatic spread of the virus was virtually non-existent, in fact it appears to be a factor and moderate symptomatic spread bigger still where people don’t know they have the virus; the CDC has modified the language of its guidance).

However we know that masks have been credited by the U.S. government for eliminated influenza outbreak in Japan (note this is not specific to coronavirus). And there’s some evidence that even a badly fitted N95 mask seems to be effective in reducing coronavirus spread.

South Korea has largely stopped its spread of COVID-19. There are fewer than 200 confirmed cases reported in Taiwan. As seriously as Singapore is taking the issue, and with Singapore Airlines cutting 96% of its capacity, there are fewer than 500 cases in Singapore.

In the U.S. we’re suffering the economic and social consequences of the virus. The fewest number of airline passengers have been traveling in the U.S. in 9 years and numbers are shrinking further. Restaurants, bars, gyms, and myriad other businesses are failing. And yet we aren’t yet taking the steps to actually stop spread.

Sixty three years ago a new flu ripped through Asia and there was a vaccine in the U.S. within months. Fully factoring the risks we need to accelerate the availability of potential COVID-19 vaccines because we aren’t out of the woods for years without one.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I wonder if this is the same reason Admirals Club at Boston Logan stopped serving alcohol…

  2. Listen to the “scientists” at briefings and you can see that they are so wedded to their protocols and bureaucratic processes. They talk about how things have to be structured, how everybody and everything needs to be approved and authorized. Industries that want to move to make ventilators will need strict approvals before they can proceed for example. It’s that institutional rot that is hurting us more than anything.

  3. We are the next Italy. Because Italy did the “lockdowns” geographically and piecemeal. They even closed down Milan and a week later things went back to normal. Our numbers will be above Italy in about one week. It is sad. There are people who still do not realize how bad this is. Once we this virus goes thru all its stages, America will never be the same. I hope everyone gets that. Our country will NEVER be the same as it was before.

  4. While you raise valid points, I think the majority of blame rests with us, the American people. Over the weekend Florida beaches were packed with kids on spring break. My local beach in Ocean City, MD had the same issue with beaches packed with people of all ages. Kids continue to congregate in the yards and play in the street.

  5. I am so sorry for my language, but what the **** is your point? Are you implying that:

    1. If we had enough mask, no need to do shelter in place?
    2. If we had enough testing and tracing, no need to do shelter in place?
    3. If “the government” has been more “effective” (whatever that means) then we would not need to do shelter in place?
    4. Vaccine(s) for covid-19 could be developed “within months” like flu?

    1, 2, 3 are all false, of course. What the **** are you trying to bring them up? What’s your point? We should continue to fly and go to gathering, so long as we wear masks and “those people” (with the virus) are locked up in place?

    And please please stop comparing vaccine for flu with covid-19. For goodness sake, just stop. We have been producing flu vaccine for a long time. We have not dealt with coronavirus as often. Just because they both are invisible to your eyes doesn’t mean they are the same thing.

    I usually don’t use this kind of language, but for goodness’ sake, please be nice. If you don’t know what to say, just shut up. It’s hard time. Please don’t make it any harder by peddling stupid theories.

  6. @John B “There are people who still do not realize how bad this is.”

    Like JB Genter at The Points Guy that apparently flew to South Africa for a safari around March 10 and flew back today?

  7. We have a double calamity. The covid-19 virus and our lack of a coordinated national plan as early as possible, since we have evidence of what will happen in other democracies.

  8. California beaches and trails were packed last weekend. Here in Seattle, it was sunny so the parks were packed and the police had to ride around on bicycles and sometimes horses to tell people to stop being morons. It’s a pandemic, not a vacation. Hopefully, the rain will come back soon.

  9. The report on Hong Kong is false. I just arrived one hour ago and visitors are admitted with same quarantine as residents and many are taking connecting flights. Not sure about alcohol ban

  10. @Donald
    The protocols are there for a reason.
    Do you want unqualified people and companies making faulty and unreliable equipment like ventilators that may fail in critical use?

    Or like the couple who took the malaria drug and the man is dead and wife in critical condition?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.