Since Tuesday local aircrew are allowed to leave their hotel rooms during stops in other countries in accordance with an internal memo distributed by Cathay Pacific to all aircrew. This happened for the first time in more than two years of the pandemic.
Thus, Cathay Pacific crews will finally get rid of the “closed loop” — a lifestyle that was invented in mainland China as a way to keep businesses and events alive during COVID-19.
As part of a “closed loop” employees can go to work as normal, but must isolate themselves from the local population to avoid infection. One of the most famous examples of “closed loop” serve the Beijing Winter Olympics, when the entire event was completely separated from the outside world.
For flight crews, this principle of operation meant that they were allowed to serve hundreds of passengers on the plane, but then close in a hotel room until the next flight.
In recent weeks, the Hong Kong government has significantly eased the restrictions that have been placed on flight personnel. Until recently, all pilots and flight attendants were quarantined every time they returned to Hong Kong from overseas and underwent a series of COVID-19 tests.
As of Tuesday, these restrictions have been lifted as part of the restoration of Hong Kong's status as global aviation hub.
However, crews are still prohibited from visiting bars and other busy public places in foreign countries, and testing for COVID-19 is still required upon arrival.