Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong during the protests? Latest travel and holiday advice

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LARGE-scale protests are continuing to take place all over Hong Kong and show no signs of stopping any time soon.

Here’s the latest on ongoing demonstrations and how British tourists could be affected.

Protesters dressed in black gather at Hong Kong’s international airport
AFP or licensors

Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong?

More than half a million Brits visit the autonomous territory in south eastern China every year, mostly without incident.

Violent crime is generally very low in Hong Kong, though travellers are always encouraged to take sensible precautions.

But protests have exploded across the region in recent months, leaving tourists unsure of their next steps.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office hasn’t advised against Brits travelling to the region.

But it has suggested travellers should “remain vigilant” when they visit.

On their website, they write: “You should be prepared that the situation around protests and public gatherings could change quickly, with the potential for significant violence.

“If you are in and around areas where demonstrations are taking place, you should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and move away quickly to a safe place if there are signs of disorder.”

The FCO warns of unauthorised protests spreading across much of Hong Kong, including some areas popular with tourists on Hong Kong Island in Kowloon.

It warns: “Compared to authorised protests, unauthorised protests are met by a more rapid and more severe police response.

“Recent unauthorised protests have attracted heavy use of tear gas, including in built up and residential areas. You should therefore exercise vigilance in the vicinity of unauthorised protests.”

A protester wearing black holds up an umbrella against tear gas
Reuters

What about the airport protests?

On August 9 the FCO updated its advice, warning of a planned protest at the international airport throughout the weekend.

Further protests are planned for August 10 in Wong Tai Sin and Tai Po.

And on Sunday, August 11, they are due to take place in Sham Sui Po and Hong Kong Island East.

Currently there are no changes to flights, or reports of disruption.

However, anyone travelling to the airport is advised to check the Hong Kong Airport website and their own airlines for the latest on their flights.

The FCO also says that there is no recent history of terrorism in Hong Kong – but that attacks can’t be ruled out.

Hong Kong law is based mainly on UK law, with on the spot fines for littering and spitting.

How else could my stay be affected?

The FCO has also warned of possible disruption to transport and the possibility of protests spilling over into public spaces such as shopping centres.

It warns: “Demonstrations may lead to sections of the city being closed off and strikes by public transport workers will significantly disrupt services.

“In recent protests, bus routes, MTR stations, the Airport Express and the Hong Kong Macao Ferry Terminal have temporarily suspended operations without warning.”

Riot police have used tear gas to disperse the protesters
Getty Images – Getty

Can I wear black?

Visitors have been advised to avoid wearing black while out and about to avoid being mistaken for protesters.

Thousands of protesters were pictured wearing black when they marched in Mong Kok, a shopping area.

It’s also alleged that the China-backed mobsters wearing white T-shirts targeted an overseas Filipino worker just for wearing a black T-shirt.

Deputy Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong, Germinia Aguilar-Usudan said he’d been on his way back from getting some food when he was detained by police.

No charges were filed, but the consul general is warning citizens to avoid wearing monochrome T-shirts at this  time.

“We will continue to advise our citizens to avoid this area and preferably to avoid using black or white T-shirts,” he told Filstar.


What are the protests about?

A huge cross-section of society including lawyers, journalists, activists and business figures have joined in widespread protests across the region.

The demonstrations kicked off in June 2019 when Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, refused to scrap highly controversial legislation to extradite those convicted of crimes to mainland China and Taiwan.

Police and protesters have clashed throughout the past two months, with dozens injured and hundreds arrested.

That bill has been shelved for now – but the protests have now mushroomed into a broader backlash against the government amid fears of the growing control of China’s Communist party.

Protesters have said they will keep going until their demands are met.

These include the resignation of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill.

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