US warns citizens to ‘reconsider travel’ amid mom-son COVID split

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The United States is urging its citizens to reconsider “reconsider travel” in its latest travel advice for American nationals.

Commentator: Even after the incident in which a mother and her child were forcibly separated upon entry following quarantine, there is still no apparent evidence that the Hong Kong government is taking steps to investigate such mishaps.

Commentator Simon Lee says Hong Kong government is no longer under media scrutiny. So it has no restrictions and Hong Kong will suffer from its actions.

The US travel advisory for Hong Kong is now at Level 3 “Reconsider Travel”. It specifically mentions that when children are diagnosed, they can be separated from their parents.

Simon Lee Sai-man, a political and economic commentator, said that the current Hong Kong government can act ruthlessly if there is no media monitoring. It’s no surprise that HK is placed in the travel advisory category by the US, all due to its own lack of restraint.

The US State Department updated its travel advisory on July 19, urging all US citizens not to travel to Hong Kong. To underline this, a possibility is stated in bold: “……including the risk of parents and children being separated due to the current pandemic prevention restrictions.” Some relevant cases were cited as justification: “Children in Hong Kong and China who tested positive tested have been separated from their parents and kept in isolation until they meet local hospital discharge requirements.”

In an interview with an online program, Lee said after a mother and her son went to a designated quarantine hotel in Hong Kong, authorities said the son would test positive upon entry and be sent to Penny’s Bay for isolation. The mother tested negative.

The mother asked if she could move in with her son, but was turned down. As a result, the son was forcibly separated from his mother and sent to Penny’s Bay. The mother was completely amazed at that moment.

Current rules state that people entering Hong Kong from outside China must undergo what is known as a “7+7” quarantine for those who tested negative on entry. That’s a 7-day stay in a designated quarantine hotel plus an additional 7 days of self-monitoring. However, from August 13, the quarantine will change to 3+4.

Those who test positive upon entry are immediately taken to an isolation center.

In addition to the mother-child split, Lee added that he has also seen strange cases through the online group chat. When some people were in a hotel quarantine on their final days but had to stay longer for certain reasons due to flight delays, they were denied booking additional days at the hotel to meet their new departure date.

Lack of media monitoring is the most likely culprit

Under the HK National Security Law (NSL), both freedom of speech and freedom of the press have been severely curtailed in HK. Criticism of the government has been reduced or even “nullified”. Based on all of this, Lee bluntly said that the biggest problem is that the media now has no role in monitoring the government.

Without proper monitoring by free media, Hong Kong administration loses all ratings. And on the other hand, we are seeing more and more cases where the law is being ruthlessly enforced. The high (Tier 3) travel warning put on HK by the US could be described as “self-inflicted” and they have only themselves to blame.

Lee said that in the past, when Apple Daily, Stand News and the like still existed, they would put such news headlines on their front pages to get government attention or to force some kind of concession. Even the pro-establishment media would likely follow suit and talk about it. More often than not, when faced with such pressure from all sides of the political spectrum, the government will treat each case more “fairly.”

If that were still the case, mother and son are likely to stay together at Penny’s Bay as a gesture of forbearance or special treatment in exceptional circumstances, leading to a happy ending. Unfortunately, as the current Hong Kong media are all in a state of virtual self-castration, the Hong Kong government can do whatever it wants. When the US said it was “too arbitrary and rigid” in enforcing these laws, there is much truth in it.

Lee stressed that in the case of the Hong Kong government’s ruthless law enforcement, it is right for the US to list all the risks and advise its nationals not to come to Hong Kong to protect the welfare of its citizens. It has nothing to do with what the Hong Kong government says all day: “Foreign governments should not make irresponsible remarks”. He sighed, “The problem isn’t that people want to smack you, it’s that you don’t show any inhibitions.”

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