On Aug. 6, Sanya City, Hainan, announced a sudden city lockdown due to an outbreak of Omicron variant BA.5.1.3. Public transportation was suspended, and all flights at the airport were canceled, and even departed flights had to return, leaving more than 80,000 tourists stranded in Sanya. It is reported that stranded tourists have protested in groups at the airport demanding to go home.
According to China Daily – the official media of the CCP, from 12:00 am to noon on Aug. 6, there were 80 locally confirmed new cases of the virus and 49 asymptomatic infections in Sanya City. From 12:00 am on Aug. 1 to 12:00 pm on Aug. 6, a total of 455 cases were confirmed and 103 asymptomatic infections were found. According to the report, the current outbreak in Sanya is a variant of Omicron BA.5.1.3, which is also the first time it has been detected in mainland China. From 6 am on Aug. 6, Sanya City began implementing static management of the entire area, restricting people’s movements in the city and suspending urban public transportation.
On Aug. 8, the Beijing Youth Daily reported that all flights to and from Sanya had been “canceled,” while only two flights from Haikou were on schedule. Earlier on Aug. 6, Sanya City held a press conference. According to news at the press conference, along with the 80,000 tourists stranded in Sanya, about 32,000 people were trapped in hotels.
Railway 12306 website also shows that the railway ministry has banned all activities in Sanya, and that people cannot leave Sanya by rail.
A video posted by netizens shows that on Aug. 6, hundreds of tourists were blocked from checking in and boarding at the airport even though they had a negative nucleic acid test certificate. The tourists loudly protested at the airport and demanded to go home. Airport staff present were also confused, because the order to completely close the city was issued suddenly and urgently from above.
Chinese officials had to intervene and provide free hotel accommodation to tourists stuck at the airport, but the tourists still insisted on going home immediately. Authorities dispatched a large number of police to maintain order.
Some tourists who did not have time to check in for the plane started lying on the ground at the airport.
Hexun quoted information from China Business News that on the Aug. 6 Ms. Wang took her children to Sanya and was expected to return to Shanghai that afternoon, but the sudden pandemic and lockdown measures made her decide to leave Sanya earlier.
In the end, Ms. Wang canceled her previous flight and bought a ticket from Sanya back to Shanghai at 11 a.m. Although it was a wide-body aircraft, this flight was only available in business class for roughly $1,800 or 12,000 yuan, roughly $1,800. Eager to leave, still ordering two business class tickets, she said all seats on this flight were sold out.
Ms. Wang and her family arrived at the airport before the Sanya flight cancellation announcement, successfully checked in and passed the security check to board the plane. I thought I could leave Sanya to return to Shanghai in the afternoon, but as soon as I got my seat, all passengers were notified to get off the plane, according to Sanya’s notice request. Wang’s flight could not carry passengers leaving Shanghai. At the same time, Sanya airport also received a notice, that passengers stuck at the airport will be transferred to hotels in the city for monitoring.
Tourists stranded in Sanya have shared their painful escape experiences on Weibo, some successes and some failures. Sound of Hope has compiled some comments from people:
“I couldn’t sleep after 1 o’clock in the morning, I saw the news at 4 o’clock that at 6 o’clock they would perform static management, I immediately woke the young and old in the house and ran to the airport, only arrived at the airport at 5 am, the nucleic acid results from yesterday afternoon still not available. I had waited until the nucleic acid results were available at 8am, then entered the airport, thought it was possible to fly away, but saw that the flights were canceled one after another. Only the Shanghai flight had six tickets, costing more than 70,000 yuan (more than $10,000), finally got on the plane and had to land.”
Another said: “Passengers who are stuck in the hotel are entitled to a half-price hotel change policy. The price for one night is 1,300 yuan (almost $200), seven days is 9,100 yuan (over $1,300), about whether you can stay for free or not, we have to wait for a later announcement.”
Another lamented: “Can’t get in, can’t get out, stay at a high-priced hotel, eat three meals a day, queue up for nucleic acid tests every day, don’t know when I can return, take a taxi to the airport at a high price, buy high-priced round-trip tickets!”
Someone luckier said: “Successful exit! The plane arrived home last night. Today, all of Sanya is under static management and no exit or entry. Now stay still at home to observe, get tested twice in three days, and keep some small memories of this shocking trip to Sanya.”
In fact, cases of COVID-19 in Sanya have already begun to spread throughout the country. People related to infected cases have appeared in Chongqing, Guangdong, Hunan, and elsewhere, and It has also spread to 8 cities and counties IN Hainan Province. Netizens in Puning City, Guangdong, posted on Weibo to share:
“We have confirmed two cases in Shantou returning from Hainan and they arrived at Wantaihui Square in downtown Puning on the Seventh Festival, where at least tens of thousands of people gathered, all were not wearing masks. Now these two are back in Chaonan, the whole town has been cordoned off, and all vehicles are banned from traveling, it’s terrible.”