HONG KONG, Jan 26 — Hong Kong’s Disneyland announced it was shutting its doors on Sunday until further notice over the deadly virus outbreak in central China, a day after city authorities classified the crisis as an emergency.
The park said it was taking the step to protect “the health and safety of our guests and cast members” and said refunds would be given.
Ocean Park, a rival amusement park on Hong Kong’s main island, said it was also closing its doors.
On Saturday, Hong Kong classified the outbreak as an “emergency” — the city’s highest warning tier — and announced ramped-up measures to reduce the risk of further infections.
The move came as city leader Carrie Lam faced criticism in some quarters over her administration’s response to the crisis, including calls to halt, or limit, arrivals from the Chinese mainland where the epidemic began.
Of the five people who have tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong so far, four arrived via a newly built high-speed train terminal which connects with the mainland.
Lam has resisted closing the border, saying the crisis is not yet at a point where such a drastic measure is needed.
But she has announced all mainland arrivals must now sign health declaration forms.
A series of public events, including a Lunar New Year gala and next month’s marathon have also been cancelled.
On Sunday, the nearby gambling hub of Macau announced three more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total to five.
All three new cases were women who came from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic. One of the women had arrived in Macau via Hong Kong, authorities said.
The closure of Disneyland and Ocean Park will pile fresh misery on Hong Kong’s tourism, leisure and retail industries which have already been battered by more than seven months of often-violent pro-democracy protests.
Ocean Park is on track to receive a HK$10.6 billion (US$1.3 billion) government bailout over grim ticket sales in recent years.
Combined with the US-China trade war fallout, the protests have helped tip Hong Kong into recession and the virus outbreak has only compounded the city’s economic woes.
Shanghai’s Disneyland also closed from Saturday in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Hong Kong has firsthand experience of deadly viral outbreaks.
Nearly 300 people were killed in the city by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, a tragedy that left a profound psychological impact on one of the most densely populated places on earth. — AFP