To achieve “zero Covid”, Hong Kong imposes a grueling quarantine on residents returning to the island

LETTER FROM HONGKONG

Since the end of August, residents of Hong Kong returning from France, the United Kingdom, the United States and twenty-three other countries have only been admitted to the special administrative region of China after twenty-one days. ‘a trying quarantine as much for their moral and physical health as for that of their finances.

The traveler must indeed remain locked in a hotel room – one of the thirty-five “DQH” (“hotels designed for quarantine”) authorized by the government – without any authorized exit in the open air. The number of people who wish to return to Hong Kong being much higher than the available offer, the delays are lengthening, the prices are rising. Some hotels, especially low-end, abuse this vein by offering rooms that are not only tiny but also dirty, even unsanitary.

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During this stay, the traveler (necessarily vaccinated and having already been tested at least twice during the forty-eight hours preceding his arrival at the hotel) must undergo six mandatory tests, which take place with precautions which seem worthy of a high security laboratory. For people who travel alone, these tours nevertheless offer them the only human contact during their entire stay, even if these cosmonaut-like speakers have the reputation of not being very talkative.

Even the delivery of the meal trays is organized in such a way as to avoid any interaction between the staff and the people placed in quarantine. Some hotels require guests to wait two minutes before opening their doors to allow staff time to exit the floor. A door opened too soon or too long, one foot in the hallway led to sanctions. “Leaving the room will be considered a violation of the quarantine rules and therefore an offense, punishable by penalties of up to six months in prison and $ 25,000. [environ 21 600 euros] fine “, specifies the government website.

Support groups of all kinds

In most hotels, it is also impossible to open the window, which accentuates the feeling of claustrophobia, migraines, reactions to mold … “Between the waltz of the meal trays and the non-stop air conditioning, we come out of there as pasty and muddy as a bad plane trip, which would have lasted twenty-one days”, testifies a young man in quarantine who could not afford a hotel of good standing.

Riding in this niche, companies have been created to deliver treadmills and indoor bikes, while tutorials and support groups of all kinds have appeared online to help get through this ordeal. You learn the importance of structuring your days, but also how to create a mini-bowl with the reserve of water bottles delivered at the start of your stay and an orange, or how to do your laundry in the electric kettle … To relieve their captive customers, some hotels subsidize a “Happy hour” on Zoom on Friday evenings.

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