The southern Chinese city of Sanya, where many tourists spend their beach vacations, on Saturday imposed tough restrictions and shut down public transport in an attempt to stem a COVID-19 outbreak during the peak tourist season, Reuters reports.

The authorities announced that the restriction measures start at 6 am (22:00 GMT), saying that the COVID situation is “very serious” and that the movement of people is restricted. However, it was not specified when the measures could be lifted.

“We urge the general public and tourists to understand and offer their support,” authorities said in a statement on the city government’s WeChat account.

What is the situation in this Chinese tourist city?

The city on Hainan Island reported 263 cases of COVID on Friday. Authorities said they detected the Omicron BA.5.1.3 subvariant.

The restrictions come at the peak of tourist season for the city, which is also known for its duty-free shopping and is home to several luxury hotels run by international companies.

Vice Mayor He Shigang told state broadcaster CCTV that there are about 80,000 tourists in the city, but the COVID-19 cases were mainly among residents.

What do people have to do to get around?

People are still allowed to leave Sanya, but to do so they must present two negative PCR tests conducted within 48 hours.

Some tourists took to social media to express their frustration.

“My plane was supposed to leave at 9am, but they suddenly blocked the city… I have to go back home to start work,” said one Weibo user.

The city began imposing lockdown measures in some places on Thursday. Several places, including its duty-free malls, popular with Chinese shoppers who cannot travel abroad, were closed on Friday.

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