At time of writing, according to MFA: “Singaporeans are advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong, given current developments.” That means you should defer taking a holiday to Hong Kong or even for business, if it is not important enough to take the risk. Hong Kong is undergoing the most serious civil unrest since its return to China in 1997 and it shows no signs of ending anytime soon. In fact, shots were fired by police for the first time yesterday and the situation has escalated to using water canons. Here are the “must dos” if you are going to HK:
- If you have to travel to Hong Kong or if you are there already, you should e-Register online with MFA. In the event that the situation escalates, MFA will be able to contact you and even provide information to your family. Registration on e-Register is voluntary but definitely a good idea when travelling to HK given the unpredictability of the unrest. If you have your Singpass ready, it only takes a few minutes – just click here:
- The best way to stay safe if to avoid areas of impending demonstrations. You can do this by following the Hong Kong Police Force on https://www.facebook.com/hongkongpoliceforce and https://twitter.com/hkpoliceforce for latest updates. Remember to keep your smartphone fully charged or carry a spare battery – in case you are caught up in an area where a demonstration is happening.
- Check the MFA website regularly. The MFA website updates information on what is happening in Hong Kong and frequently advises where and when demonstrations are likely to occur. There are also important phone numbers on that page in case you need to get help. Here is the link to the MFA Hong Kong page.
- You should always check for flight delays before heading out to the airport with your airline or at the HKIA website. During the past month, HKIA has suffered from flight delays and even a complete airport shutdown for incoming and outgoing flights due to the protests. Trust me – you do not want to be in HKIA when the chaos happens with all your luggage in tow!
- If you have Whatsapp, it is always a good idea to let your loved ones know where you are and that you are safe. When your loved ones see the news, things can look pretty scary. Singaporeans are not used to civil unrest at this massive scale. Staying connected with your family online also helps them contact MFA in case something happens.
- If you plan buy travel insurance, read the fine print first. As this is a “known event” happening, some travel insurance may exclude claims resulting from the unrests. You may need to shop around to find a policy that provides a decent level of protection or at least have limited exclusions. You do not want to find this out after the fact! Given what is happening in HK, the travel insurance company has many ways to deny your claim.
There are always risks travelling abroad and seniors should remain vigilant and prepared for disruptions to their travel plans. The risk is now elevated for Hong Kong and if you must go there, make sure you have a contingency plan for a place to stay and extra money. But the best is to follow MFA’s advise – ONLY ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TO HK for the time being.