In this file photo dated Feb 1, 2010, a 'Star Ferry' floats in front of a cruise ship in Victoria harbour in Hong Kong. (MIKE CLARKE / AFP)
HONG KONG -The Hong Kong government announced on Wednesday that fully vaccinated residents can enjoy summer "cruises to nowhere" starting in late July.
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said cruise lines are expected to resume"cruise-to-nowhere" (CTN) itineraries that do not involve ports outside Hong Kong by the end of July under strict health guidelines.
"With the stabilizing COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong since mid-February this year, the public, the cruise trade and the tourism industry have strong aspirations for the gradual resumption of cruise travel which has been suspended for more than 15 months since February last year,” Yau was quoted as saying in the statement.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said said all passengers must be fully vaccinated and should test negative for the virus 48 hours before boarding
“CTN itineraries underpinned by health control safeguards will offer an additional safe vacation option for the community as from the coming summer," he added.
Yau said said all passengers must be fully vaccinated and should test negative for the virus 48 hours before boarding.
“Hong Kong residents who have yet to be vaccinated may wish to do so as soon as possible in order that they may join CTN itineraries,” he said.
Each cruise ship will operate at maximum 50 percent capacity while all incoming crew members are required to comply with quarantine and testing requirements and must be fully vaccinated. They should also be tested for the virus every three days.
In the event that there is a suspected case on board during a cruise journey, the trip will be suspended at once and the cruise ship will return to Hong Kong.
"Given the nature of a cruise operation, considerable lead time is required for cruise lines to prepare for resumption of CTN itineraries,” Yau said.
“The announcement today enables the tourism industry, in particular cruise lines, to make preparations for the resumption immediately by arranging their cruise ships and crew members to come to Hong Kong,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection said the city recorded one imported COVID-19 case on Wednesday involving a 27-year-old woman from the United Arab Emirates. She started showing COVID-19 symptoms on May 24.
The CHP said it was also investigating a 51-year-old male patient, a companion of the 19-year-old woman whose infection was reported on Monday. The two had gone to Shenzhen on May 8.
The Guangdong health authority informed the CHP on Tuesday that the patient had been confirmed COVID-19 positive on May 23. The CHP said it was conducting epidemiological investigations and contact tracing.
A total of 24 cases were reported from May 12 to 25, including eight local cases, of which five were untraceable, the CHP added.
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