COVID-19 outbreak is forcing a tourist city in China to shut down, trapping more than 2,000 unprepared visitors. 

According to mainland media Pocket Binzhou, Beihai city of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has been recording more than 450 cases in just 5 days. 

In China, the rate is considered a severe flare-up, which has prompted officials to skip the tourist season and urgently issued a lockdown on July 14. The seaside city is known as a popular summer vacation spot in the region.

According to government records, while some accommodation services have been ordered to stop receiving guests and refund money, the measure is estimated to affect more than 2,000 tourists. 

Not all of them would be forced to undergo the blockade. The city provides an exit for those from low-risk areas or not a direct or secondary contact of a COVID-positive patient. They could leave as long as a valid COVID-negative result is available.

For others, they would have to remain in isolation and undergo mass testing rounds. According to the Securities Times Network, a total of 3.94 million people had been tested in four rounds of regional PCR testing in Beihai City as of July 16.

State-media CCTV reported that a district chief and a health commission director had been dismissed for failing to respond to the outbreak in a timely manner. The first cases emerged on July 12 in Haicheng District. 

This outbreak and other recent flare-ups across China could be a blow to China’s domestic tourism, which has only rallied this month.

According to the Securities Times, as of July 12, the total number of tourist-based bookings placed through Ctrip in the preceding two weeks climbed by more than nine times compared to the prior month. The outlet put high hopes from flight statistics that the peak season for booking plane tickets would be between July 15 and August 4.

China’s tourism has particularly suffered this year, with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism reporting that just 160 million domestic journeys were undertaken over the May Labor Day vacation. This was a third fewer than during the same time last year.

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