Covid lockdown in China: Thousands of tourists trapped in resort town in Guangxi after shutdown

The city of Beihai, a popular summer holiday destination known for its white sand beach and volcanic island in the Guangxi region, has seen more than 500 infections in the past week – a major outbreak by China’s standards.

On Saturday, the Beihai government sealed off urban areas of the city where its resorts and tourist attractions are located, ordered mass testing, and banned residents from leaving their homes.

The sweeping Covid restrictions have also affected Weizhou Island, a remote island more than an hour away by boat that is popular for its scenic coastline and beaches. Starting Friday, tourists have been ordered to leave the island, and hotels and guesthouses have been ordered to refund guests unconditionally.

On Sunday, Weizhou Island closed all entertainment venues, from bars, cinemas and massage parlors to swimming pools. Scenic spots across the island have also been closed.

At a press conference on Sunday, local officials said more than 2,000 tourists stranded in Beihai would be treated based on their Covid risk level: those who were not in medium or high risk areas and who were not identified as direct or secondary contact. an infected person will be allowed to leave the country provided they test negative for Covid; others will have to stay in the city and undergo quarantine.

Two city officials have been removed from their posts for failing to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus, state broadcaster CCTV said.

The sudden closure of a tourist hotspot is the latest example of the economic pain caused by China’s costly strategy to fight the coronavirus. Last week, the Chinese economy registered a decline worst quarterly result more than two years, after several months of severe restrictions that have led to chaos across the country.
China’s tourism industry has been hit by seemingly endless travel restrictions and sudden lockdowns, especially this year. During the Labor Day holiday in May, only 160 million domestic trips were made, down a third from the same period last year. Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Many travel destinations were hoping to see more visitors during the summer break, but Omicron’s new high-transmission sub-options have put local governments under more pressure to control Covid outbreaks.

On Sunday, China reported almost 600 local infections, the highest since May. At least 16 provinces across the country have identified local cases of Covid infection this month, according to the National Health Commission.

In Macau, the government said on Saturday it would extend a citywide lockdown until July 22 as it tried to contain the largest Covid outbreak in history at a gambling hub.

Macau imposed a lockdown on July 11, closing its casinos and forbidding residents from leaving their apartments except for essential activities such as grocery shopping. Since mid-June, about 1,700 cases of infection have been reported.