Chinese authorities have imposed a lockdown in Sanya, a beach resort on the south of Hainan Island, on Saturday and shut its public transport system to try to stop further spread of Covid-19.
Officials said the situation was “very severe”, partly because this is its peak tourist season, and that restrictions would start at 6am. No information was given on how long the lockdown would last.
“We urge the general public and tourists to understand and give their support,” authorities said in a statement on the city government’s WeChat account.
The city on Hainan island reported 263 Covid cases for Friday. Authorities said they had detected the Omicron subvariant BA.5.1.3.
Sanya is known for its duty-free shopping and is home to several high-end hotels run by international companies including IHG and Marriott International.
Deputy mayor He Shigang told state broadcaster CCTV there were about 80,000 tourists in the city but that the cases were mainly among residents.
People were still allowed to leave Sanya but must present two negative PCR tests taken within 48 hours to do so.
Some tourists took to social media to vent their frustration.
“My plane was supposed to leave at 9am this morning but they suddenly locked down the city … I need to go back home to start work,” one user of the Weibo platform said.
The city started imposing lockdown measures in some places on Thursday. More venues, including its duty-free malls, which are popular with Chinese shoppers unable to travel abroad, were shut on Friday.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard