Thousands of pilots were forced into quarantine in Hong Kong

Over the past 2 months, hundreds of pilots have been forced into three-week long quarantine periods in Hong Kong’s Penny’s Bay facility. The rooms consisted of converted shipping containers and people staying there were allowed no outdoor time. Pilots in the quarantine have come from a variety of airlines, like British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

Expats forced to confront Hong Kong's 'brutal' Covid quarantine | Financial  Times
An image of the Penny’s Bay facility

A huge number of Cathay Pacific staff was forced into three-week quarantine after coming into contact with a COVID carrier in Frankfurt, Germany. Even though the crew’s PCR tests were negative, they were considered “potential close contacts”. The rooms were simple, with a bed and a bathroom, not much else. Hong Kong has imposed a strict testing and isolation regime to keep on track with China’s policies, but this is causing many pilots to isolate themselves when returning from abroad.

Covid-19: Hong Kong's Penny's Bay quarantine centre has been unfairly  tarnished - here's the flip side - Hong Kong Free Press HKFP
An image of a room in Penny’s Bay

The spread of the new Omicron variant is causing travel to be restricted a lot, and more and more pilots and crew are having to isolate. When pilots and crew first arrive in Hong Kong, they do a PCR test and wait for it. Those who are negative are told to isolate themselves at home. They are then told to “avoid unnecessary contact” for a further 18 days. If pilots test positive or are marked as close contacts, they are sent to the facility for 21 days. Family members are often sent to quarantine too.

Air crew flying into Hong Kong also have to follow these rules, with crews from airlines such as KLM and British airways having to isolate. Luckily, a group of Hong Kong citizens has come to the rescue, providing supplies to people undergoing quarantine. These supplies often include food, as the food in Penny’s Bay is almost like something you might find in economy class on an airplane. This food is estimated to cost around 30 HK$, equivalent to £3 in the UK.

Hong Kong Covid: The Cathay pilots stuck in 'perpetual quarantine' - BBC  News
An image of the food at the quarantine facility (Credit:

Many pilots have been released before the end of their proposed quarantine, but that doesn’t mean that all have gone. People continue to be sent to Penny’s Bay and other facilities around Honk Kong, even though the city remains with very few coronavirus cases. For now, all we can say is that one of the largest aviation hubs is likely to stop having crews fly there in many cases.


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