When Annie Shu stepped off her plane in July, she was expecting a vacation in Hainan, “China’s Hawaii.”
Little did she know she’d be whisked off to a hotel, where she’d be confined in her room and not even allowed to step outside for a breath of air and a change of scene.
China’s Zero Covid policy has upended the lives of Annie Shu and about 178,000 other tourists, who, as of Aug. 13, were stranded in Hainan hotels.
To try to control the outbreak, the Chinese National Health Commission sent more than 10,000 medical personnel from 19 provinces to Hainan to help with mass testing. In addition, national emergency and rescue teams have taken charge of two makeshift hospitals to care for people who have Covid.
At the moment, coming and going from Hainan isn’t easy.
Under rules put in place by provincial authorities, people attached to groups, hotels, or areas where there are no cases cannot leave Hainan unless they have two negative PCR tests within 48 hours. They also have to be free of symptoms for three days.
Since March, China has been facing its largest Covid outbreak since the pandemic started in Wuhan in 2020.
Its take no prisoners policies have slowed the outbreak down but have come far from stopping it completely. And the lockdowns and changing rules are taking a toll, not just on residents and travelers, but on businesses.
The domestic travel industry is perhaps suffering the most.
“The trend is things are getting worse,” Shanghai-based travel agency owner Josie Chen told Al Jazeera.
But for now, there’s not much to do but “pray for good luck.”