A Channel Islander living in Hong Kong says he is “finding the positives” amid the worst covid-19 outbreak anywhere in the world.
Gavin Fitch relocated for work during Guernsey’s second lockdown last March to what was, at the time, a “zero covid” country.
The country is now battling the highest covid death rate in the world and has put heavy restrictions in place.
Mr Fitch said that some measures have been in place since he moved there.
“Hong Kong was previously had a “zero-covid” policy and was operating in its own bubble,” he said.
“I had to self-isolate for three weeks when I arrived in Hong Kong due to its strict policies for inbound travellers and masks have been mandatory the entire time I have been here."
Pictured: Hong Kong is in the midst of a serious covid outbreak.
Mr Fitch continued: “There are rumours here that this outbreak was caused by pilots who were, for the most part, left to their own devices with isolating and that a number of them were tired of the restrictions and decided to go out; I don’t know how much truth there is in that.”
According to Our World in Data, Hong Kong reported more deaths per million in the week to 3 March than any other country or territory in the world.
“Hong Kong was supposed to go into a one-month lockdown this month and the supermarkets were stripped completely bare ahead of that,” said Mr Fitch.
“That lockdown did not come info effect, but there is definitely a cultural mindset here where people are being incredibly cautious about the virus.”
Pictured: Hong Kong had a previous zero-covid policy.
“Life was fairly 'normal' here last year and I had a great time, but there were some limits, for example clubs closed at 12am," said Mr Fitch.
“You then needed one vaccine to be allowed in a club past midnight, and that then developed into needing two vaccines.”
In January stricter restrictions came into effect.
“At the start of the year the policy changed and venues like restaurants and bars had to close at 6pm,” explained Mr Fitch.
“All sport has been cancelled, the pools and beaches are closed and almost everyone works from home now.
“I used to frequently go to the beach, I had been playing football here and I would socialise a lot in the evenings but all of that has stopped.”
Pictured: Mr Fitch moved to Hong Kong in 2021.
Public gatherings are limited to two people in Hong Kong.
“There is a constant threat of fines here at the moment,” said Mr Fitch.
“I have a friend who was out in a group of three people and they got a HKD 5,000 fine on the spot, which is about £500.
“My friends and I are trying to make the best of the situation. For example, because you can go out in pairs, we will go out and sit in pairs on tables next to our other friends. The tables are separated by plastic screens, but it is still a way to socialise.
“We are also going out for lunches more often than evenings because of everything closing at 6pm.”
Pictured: A makeshift covid hospital has been constructed to help deal with the pandemic in Hong Kong.
Mr Fitch said his job as a mortgage broker has been impacted by the restrictions.
“A huge part of my role was face-to-face meetings with clients and attending exhibitions. These meetings are no longer possible and all the exhibitions have been cancelled, so it really has affected the way that I work,” he said.
“It is not practical for me to continue trying to work in Hong Kong now due to the restrictions, so my colleague and I are going to Thailand for a while where we will be able to have face-to-face meetings.
“We will also be going to Phuket, Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpar for business development opportunities."
Pictured: Mr Fitch will be travelling to Thailand to evade the pandemic.
Mr Fitch continued: “We were meant to leave this week, but my colleague contracted covid, so we have had to postpone the trip until he has recovered".
Mr Fitch said that the restrictions did have some benefits for his work.
“There are a lot of Hong Kong nationals who want to move their cash out of the country at the moment,” he said.
“People with a British National Overseas visa are taking advantage of the opportunity to buy property in the UK so I have seen an increase in those transactions.
“More people are leaving Hong Kong at the moment; in particular a lot of British ex-pats are leaving because the restrictions are too restrictive and the freedoms they used to enjoy are gone.”
Pictured: Mortgage broker Gavin Fitch has seen an increase in clients moving assets out of Hong Kong.
Mr Fitch had lived in Hong Kong in 2016 on an exchange programme while he was at university.
“My experience in 2016 did influence my decision to want to move to Hong Kong, but the lifestyle here now is completely different than it was then,” he said.
“I also thought that I would have been able to see my family and friends by now as they had hoped to come and visit me, but that isn’t possible yet due to the pandemic.
“I am someone who always looks for the positives though; I am still living in a new place which is exciting and I will be travelling more with our new business development plans. I might even be able to see my family if they can visit me in one of the other countries.”
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