Hong Kong will remain closed to foreigners for an indefinite period of time, after the Government opted overnight to extend entry restrictions "until further notice."
The city's airport will continue to ban all passengers in transit, as well as deny entry to visitors.
Those restrictions were first put into place on March 25 and were at the time to be implemented tentatively for 14 days, ending on April 7.
However, with Hong Kong now seeing more than double the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past fortnight – and the bulk of those having clear connections with travel – "the Government has decided to extend the aforementioned entry restriction and suspension of airport transit services until further notice."
In addition, all arrivals at the airport are required to go to the nearby AsiaWorld Expo site for COVID-19 testing, before proceeding to their home for the mandatory 14 day quarantine period.
The rolling restrictions will add to the pressure on Cathay Pacific, which has already pared its global network down to what the airline describes as "a bare skeleton".
This includes just two flights per week in April to Sydney, London, Los Angeles and Vancouver, with three weekly flights to eight regional cities including Singapore, Tokyo and Manila.
"A timeline for a recovery in our customer demand still remains impossible to predict," notes Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang.
PREVIOUS [March 23, 2020] | Hong Kong will ban all visitors to the city, and passengers in transit through Hong Kong International Airport, following the lead of Singapore in a desperate pitch to stamp out a resurgence of the coronavirus.
The restrictions come into force from 12.01am Wednesday March 25 (local time) and will be in effect for 14 days.
The Hong Kong Government notes that "All transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended".
Cathay Pacific has updated its website advising travellers that under the new transit restrictions effective from 25 March 2020, "For all passengers transiting through Hong Kong, their onward flight’s scheduled departure time must be before 23:59 on 24 March 2020."
Singapore's own ban on visitors and transit passengers has already seen Singapore Airlines slash its network to a handful of destinations flown by just nine jets out of a fleet of 147.
Across April and May, Cathay Pacific will shrink its network to "a skeleton schedule" of only 15 destinations, all served by three flights per week.
Those cities are Sydney, London/Heathrow, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City; the airline's regional arm, Cathay Dragon, will fly to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.
The staggering 96% cut in passenger capacity has been driven by what the airline describes as "the severe drop in demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan."
Cathay Pacific has been particularly exposed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline's international routes are funnelled through its busy Hong Kong hub, while Cathay Pacific and its regional arm Cathay Dragon also maintained an extensive network of 368 flights per week to 23 destinations across mainland China.