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Hong Kong preempts cruises as part of 14-day COVID crackdown

Spectrum of the Seas' latest cruise was cut short when contact tracing identified nine people who may have been exposed to a case ashore. They tested negative but were sent to quarantine ashore
Hong Kong cruises are halted for two weeks, until Jan. 20, as part of wide-ranging government measures to stem transmission of the Omicron variant.

This is not due to cruise-specific issues but part of a host of actions that include limiting incoming flights, a ban on indoor dining at night and the reintroduction of social distancing.

A spokesperson of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSAR) remarked, ‘The COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong has evolved drastically… Hong Kong now faces substantial risk of a major outbreak.

‘The government must adopt stringent measures in the coming two weeks with a view to containing the epidemic as early as possible.’ 

Spectrum returns early

Royal Caribbean International's Spectrum of the Seas was ordered to return to Hong Kong on Wednesday, a day earlier than scheduled, after health authorities identified nine passengers as close contacts of an infected person linked to a recent Omicron cluster.

The vessel, on a cruise to nowhere, had left Hong Kong's Kai Tak terminal on Sunday.

Royal Caribbean said the nine passengers were immediately isolated and had all tested negative, and that the company was working closely with authorities to comply with epidemic prevention policies and regulations.

Passengers cleared to disembark after testing

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection sent the nine people to shoreside quarantine and ordered everyone on board tested. Passengers were allowed to disembark Wednesday night.

In halting sailings, Dream Cruises — which operates short trips to nowhere on Genting Dream — noted the cancellation is 'due to the government’s directive and not as a result of any COVID-19-related incidents on board the ship.'

Genting Dream and Spectrum of the Seas have been operating cruises to nowhere at reduced occupancy with vaccination and testing requirements.

'Cruise companies have done all they can'

'The cruise companies have done all they can by strictly complying with the vaccination and testing requirements. They have no choice but to be prudent,' tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Pak-leung told the South China Morning Post

Genting Dream resumed Hong Kong service in July, followed by Spectrum of the Seas in October

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