With continual declines in confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the last 14 days, AIRINC APAC cautiously welcomes the re-opening of public facilities, as well as the loosening of social restrictions in Hong Kong this week. While residents look to regain some semblance of normalcy, I’ve observed several noticeable changes that may continue.
On Sunday, May 3, Hong Kong recorded no new cases of COVID-19 and 14 days straight with no cases of local transmission. As the COVID-19 crisis has begun to abate in the city, the protests that rocked Hong Kong for many months have begun to resurge. The big question is “what’s next for Hong Kong?”
Relocating is already a challenge, but relocating during a pandemic adds a new level of difficulty. After years of surveying based in AIRINC’s Cambridge office, I was honored to accept a position at our Hong Kong branch late last year. From the beginning, I was excited to move to a vibrant global city, but the logistics proved more challenging than expected as a novel coronavirus (at the time still unnamed) spread in January. Even before being declared a pandemic, COVID-19 was having a broad and unpredictable impact across the globe.
While no one can predict when the COVID-19 outbreak will be contained, the pandemic has firmly stalled and reversed rising property trends across Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore. AIRINC spoke to industry experts across Asia’s most dynamic business hubs to understand the unique characteristics of each market and what changes and opportunities lie ahead.
Perspective in Global Mobility is important, and we work hard to bring unique insights from across the world of mobility and the many facets it covers. The interview below is with AIRINC APAC's Client Solution Manager, Wei Wu, who is a Chinese National and completed a two-year assignment at our headquarters in Cambridge before transferring to our AIRINC Hong Kong office.
On January 30th, I arrived in Manila to start my recent survey quarter, and the Philippines had just confirmed their first case of COVID-19. I observed what seemed like a swift local response as much of the population was already wearing masks, and hand sanitizer was provided in most hotels and restaurants in the Makati area. One supermarket even advised customers to put on a mask upon entering, but it was not mandatory.
Last quarter, in the early stages of the global COVID-19 outbreak, I was surveying Southeast Asia. At the time of my transit through Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia had recently suspended flights from mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong. Though normally a carrier that promotes customer self-service, the airline was diverting all travellers from these locations to the check-in counters to undergo screening questions before being allowed to proceed; in fact, they were prohibited from using the automated-check-in machines as you can see in the photo below.
The outbreak of COVID-19 began to impact Hong Kong in late January, following the initial spread of the virus in mainland China. In the first weeks of the outbreak, supply of hygiene related goods, like masks and hand sanitizer, was unable to meet the sharp increase in demand.
AIRINC is featured in the February edition of Mobility, a magazine that "examines the key issues affecting the global mobility workforce." This article appears on page 10, the "Tips and Trends" section, and is entitled Housing Markets on the Rise—and Not.
As of Feb 26, 2020, the number of confirmed cases of CoViD-19 has risen to 91 with 2 fatalities. The anxiety on the ground in Hong Kong is pervasive. In my neighborhood, for example, there was a recent Coronavirus fatality. For many residents in Hong Kong, present events are stirring memories from of our lives during SARS in 2003. I was young at the time and mostly recall the extended holidays and chatting with friends online, but the fear of older residents who lived through previous outbreaks is tangible.