Beijing authorities, on Saturday, abruptly halted all flights and trains from Sanya, a city on the southern end of China’s Hainan Island, effectively stranding over 80,000 tourists in a popular resort area, known as ‘China’s Hawaii’.
The unexpected total lockdown has been triggered by a COVID-19 outbreak and was declared a day after 263 new positive coronavirus cases were confirmed.
The lockdown in Sanya, which is a popular surfing destination, comes during the peak tourist season in China.
According to media reports, all Sanya’s essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies remain open, but entertainment venues have been closed since last week.
Chinese government officials have said they will ask local hotels to offer a 50% discount to trapped tourists until the open-ended coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
All visitors now also required to submit five negative PCR tests over seven days before being allowed to leave the area.
Sanya is not the only Chinese city put into lockdown lately. More than 1,000,000 people in a suburb of Wuhan, the city in central China where coronavirus was first recorded, have been subjected to fresh restrictions last month after four asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were confirmed.
China is the only major global economy to still follow a ‘Zero-Covid’ policy.
China has recorded fewer than 15,000 deaths since the global COVID-19 pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.
But there have been major concerns about the impact of the severe government restrictions, including mass testing and local lockdowns, on the country’s economy.