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Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

End this outrageous airport fiasco

End this outrageous airport fiasco

It's unbelievable that travelers flying in late at night were left languishing for the whole night at the airport after testing positive to Covid on arrival because no bus driver was on duty to take them to isolation facilities.
That is not the standard of service an international city is expected to operate with.

The situation is just ridiculous. First, while they were put in the baggage claim area to face the night cold and hungry, these travelers continued to mix with others - including those testing negative - to risk passing the disease on to others.

If the government was still of the view that Covid posed a serious threat to public health and it was necessary to maintain existing quarantine and social distancing measures, the absurd night scene at the airport would amount to total irony.

Can you imagine that people bound for isolation at Penny's Bay used the same toilet facilities as others testing negative?

Maybe what we've heard from the passengers was a reflection of the untold truth that, although Covid is still defined as a public health threat at government policy level, people in general no longer think so after having personally gone through the huge outbreaks of Omicron in the fifth wave.

Clearly, there exists a widened gap between current government Covid policy and public expectations.

Then, outside the airport, it's absolutely unbelievable that no night duty bus driver could be arranged to take affected incoming travelers to isolation facilities, even though such simple logistical support could have been readily provided with no difficulty.

Could it be that the government thought it was not worth investing in maintaining a night fleet as the demand for the service may be small?

Had that been the consideration, this would have been a case of poor judgment placing concerns about resources before the need to quarantine.

As Hong Kong heads in the right direction to ease quarantine restrictions for inbound travelers - beginning last Friday with the "3+4" arrangement, thus three days in a quarantine hotel and four days of closely monitored movement - more people are expected to fly into Hong Kong.

This is already occurring. On Sunday, over 7,400 people traveled to the SAR by air to hit a new high for the recent past following the "3+4" easing.

It is only to be expected that more people will land late at night. As the number continues to increase, is the government going to keep putting affected passengers on cold benches and cots with no hot food and drink while sharing toilets with others?

The government can certainly do much better than that.

In this light, it could not have been more timely for the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association to call for all quarantine measures to be lifted no later than November.

As the rest of the world continues to open up at an accelerating pace, it is necessary for the SAR to catch up to reopen its borders completely to normal travel.

To start with, the humiliating practice of leaving travelers to languish in the baggage claim area must stop immediately.

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