Mr Lin and his family had been hoping for a great family vacation together, but are now stuck in the Chinese regime’s lockdown on what has been a difficult journey.
Coming from Chengdu, a city in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Lin (a pseudonym) traveled to Hainan, China’s southernmost province, on business, while his wife and child chose to accompany him at their own expense.
But after visiting Sanya, Hainan’s main tourist hub, on August 3, Lin and his family were locked up in a guesthouse in the town of Liji, Wanning County, about 80 miles north of the city of Sanya, with 17 or 18 guests, Lin told the Chinese-language Epoch Times in an Aug. 15 interview.
“Nobody from local governments has informed us where we can get PCR tests, and nobody is contacting us to ask if we need help,” Lin said, adding that the city’s governance is “very bad.” .
They returned to the guest house after staying in Sanya for just one day after learning from local news that Sanya had recorded positive COVID-19 cases on August 4.
More than 150,000 travelers have been stranded in Hainan since August 1 under the Chinese regime’s zero-COVID policies.
The tropical island is well known for its white sandy beaches and year-round warm climate, and is a favorite tourist resort in China.
From August 1 to 16, a total of 5,298 confirmed cases and 6,457 asymptomatic infections were officially reported by the main provincial health agency.
Sanya, the island’s main tourist hub, imposed a strict lockdown on August 6, “restricting the movement of people throughout the city and suspending urban public transport”, said Du Jianwei, deputy team leader of the provincial pandemic control and prevention agency.
Trains from Sanya were also suspended on August 6, according to the financial channel of one of the Chinese news portals Sina. More than 80% of flights to and from Sanya had been canceled and some 80,000 visitors were stranded in the city, Reuters reported on August 8.
“For those of us stranded in Sanya, no one took the initiative to contact us. We don’t know where we can get PCR tests, we don’t have anywhere to buy food, and there is no food delivery service either,” Lin said.
Starting August 5, Lin said her family was required to take PCR tests almost every day, until they found no place to test them.
If visitors want to leave Hainan, they must turn in negative PCR tests daily for three days and then later on the fifth and seventh days before departure, according to an Aug. 6 report from Netease, a Chinese online media.
“Wanning was under lockdown restrictions on August 7, and the neighborhood clinics where we used to go for PCR tests were all closed,” Lin said.
Testing locations are changing all the time and people have to walk long hours to search for testing locations as there is no local transportation available. Lin and her family walked for more than 40 minutes on one occasion to find a testing site in a nearby village.
But on August 12, the villagers, fearing the risk of infection, did not allow tourists to enter the village for PCR tests.
“We made many calls to the village committee, the local tourist office and the city hotline, but no one came to our aid,” Lin said.
The family has to spend about half a day each day looking for testing places that are open to visitors. They take a daily PCR test because they don’t know when they can leave and the policies keep changing, according to Lin in the interview.
“These man-made barriers are scarier than the COVID-19 viruses,” Lin said, adding that he didn’t expect to feel so frustrated with the government’s neglect.
Reuters reported on August 7 that some tourists have complained about the local government’s negligence, quoting a woman named Zhou as saying that “no official body contacted us or took any interest in us.” She was part of a group of tourists staying at a hotel that refused to implement the Sanya government’s half-price policy for tourists whose flights were canceled.
Shortage of food and basic necessities
Lin said he and his family had to rely on food provided by the guesthouse for a meal at around $8 per person, but now even the guesthouse boss is running out of food. They have to rely on bread that they managed to buy while it was still available.
“Wanning is now totally locked down. We can’t find any stores open. There are people who trade food and necessities stealthily. We bought food and my wife’s tampon in such a way that we feel like thieves,” Lin said in frustration.
Censored online messages
Lin said he wrote a post of around 2,500 words, telling readers what he and his family had been through in Hainan for the past two weeks, but his post was deleted within five minutes by the authorities. the regime’s online censors.
“I uploaded some photos after that, but only my friends can see them,” Lin said. “The voice that speaks the truth cannot be heard!”
He hopes he and his family can return to Chengdu, their hometown, as soon as possible. But the information he received from the Chengdu municipal government and his company left him worried.
“I called the Chengdu hotline on August 13, and they said they didn’t reject the flights from Hainan, but my company’s HR department sent me a message on August 15 that Chengdu did not accept flights from Hainan,” Lin said.
The Epoch Times contacted the Chengdu hotline on Aug. 17, and a government hotline staff member answering the phone told the publication that visitors from Hainan could return to Chengdu.
“Visitors to Hainan should report to their local neighborhood community in Chengdu when they arrive at Hainan airport. Then they should be transferred home directly from Chengdu airport. They should be isolated at home for three days and under sanitary control at home for two more days,” the staff member said.
Gu Xiaohua contributed to the article.