Hong Kong’s Airport Is Shut Down Amid Protests. Here’s What Travelers Should Know aug12

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Hong Kong’s Airport Is Shut Down Amid Protests. Here’s What Travelers Should Know

Thousands of anti-government protesters occupied Hong Kong’s airport on Monday, prompting officials to cancel thousands of flights, causing travel chaos.

All departures from Hong Kong International Airport were canceled Monday, and arrivals faced delays — though officials said inbound flights already on their way would be allowed to land.

“Other than departure flights that have completed the check-in process and the arrival flights already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been cancelled for the rest of [Monday],” airport authorities said in a statement.

Protesters occupied the airport — one of the world’s busiest and a major regional hub — in defiance of police who they accuse of brutality. On Sunday, police fired tear gas at crowds inside a subway station, and charged at protesters on an escalator. One woman had been hit in the eye with a tear gas canister. There were also reports of undercover police dressing as protesters in order to make arrests.

The scene at Hong Kong’s airport, where thousands of protesters have flooded the terminal. The airport took the rare step of canceling all flights and shutting down. pic.twitter.com/BV559oF5NU

— Javier C. Hernández (@HernandezJavier) August 12, 2019

The demonstrations in Hong Kong are now into their tenth week. They began as opposition to a controversial extradition law, but have morphed into wider resistance against encroaching control from Beijing, which many Hong Kong residents see as an authoritarian threat to their comparatively open society.

Here’s what to know if you’re scheduled to travel to or from Hong Kong today.

How long will flights be canceled for?

At the time of writing, all flights out of Hong Kong International Airport until 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday had been canceled. Passengers traveling later should keep checking the airport’s departures page and contact their specific airline for advice.

According to the BBC, rumors have spread among protesters in the airport that authorities are planning to move against the protesters there on Monday evening. Those rumors have caused crowds to thin, creating backlogs on public transport and on roads leading to the airport. Thousands of people, however, remain at the airport.

Is it still safe to go to Hong Kong?

Hong Kong authorities have hinted that the police crackdown could yet become more violent.

“In recent days, Hong Kong’s radical protesters have repeatedly attacked police with highly dangerous tools, which constitute serious violent crimes and have started to show signs of terrorism,” said a spokesperson for the Chinese government on Monday. “This type of violent criminal activity must be resolutely combated according to the law, with no hesitation or mercy.”

Shocking footage of #HongKong riot police charging into a subway station pursuing pro-democracy activists and firing into them at point blank range. I’ve seen police being provoked here but I’m speechless. Carrie Lam says no police inquiry needed they’re investigating themselves. pic.twitter.com/R61BytE6ft

— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) August 11, 2019

There will be “no leniency or mercy,” the spokesman added.

The U.S. State Department has issued a level two travel advisory for Hong Kong, warning travelers to “exercise increased caution in Hong Kong due to civil unrest.”

Original Article