HONG KONG—The city is banning passenger flights from eight countries, including the U.S., for two weeks, closing bars and banning evening dine-in after the city’s first community Omicron infections punctured one of the world’s strictest and most effective border controls.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam unveiled some of the toughest restrictions since the start of the pandemic in response to several cases of Omicron tied to returning air crew, a circuit breaker designed to try to prevent a major outbreak. City health officials have detected just one Omicron case that wasn’t related to imported cases so far, but the find sparked fears of invisible transmission chains in the community.
“We’re facing a very dire situation, that’s why we have to take very decisive measures,” Mrs. Lam said Wednesday. “Our strategy is to be fast, harsh and precise—we are hoping the short-term pain will pay off.”
While countries such as the U.S. and U.K have reported record daily cases with minimal restrictions on travel and social mingling, Hong Kong has been adhering to a “Zero Covid” strategy for months. It has one of the strictest border controls: Travelers returning from most countries had to quarantine at special centers or hotels for 21 days at their own expense.