Hong Kong coronavirus battle includes banning all tourist arrivals, halting alcohol sales at bars, restaurants

All tourist arrivals to the global financial center of Hong Kong will be banned from entering for two weeks amid a spike of imported cases of coronavirus as officials took additional steps Monday to contain the spread of the virus.

The semi-autonomous Chinese territory announced Monday that foreign non-residents will be barred from entering for 14 days, starting on Wednesday.

The Asian financial hub will also ban travelers from mainland China, along with the nearby Chinese region of Macao and the self-governing island of Taiwan that is claimed by Beijing, if they have visited foreign countries over the past two weeks.

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As of Monday morning, Hong Kong had 356 confirmed COVID-19 cases and four deaths according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Of the 356 cases, 252 are still active while some 100 people have recovered, according to the tally.

Passengers wear protective suits and face masks as they arrive at the Hong Kong airport, Monday, March 23, 2020.

Passengers wear protective suits and face masks as they arrive at the Hong Kong airport, Monday, March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who pledged to “fight the battle seriously and have confidence to win one day," also said the government would amend the law to suspend the sale of alcohol in licensed bars and restaurants in the city.

Passengers wear protective suits and face masks to protect themselves from possibly contracting the coronavirus after arriving at the Hong Kong airport, Monday, March 23, 2020.

Passengers wear protective suits and face masks to protect themselves from possibly contracting the coronavirus after arriving at the Hong Kong airport, Monday, March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

“In restaurants, meals can still be served [without alcohol] ... But in bars, people sometimes get intimate after drinking, and this will raise the risk of cross-infection," Lam said Monday, according to the South China Morning Post.

People wearing face masks walk at a downtown street in Hong Kong Monday, March 16, 2020.

People wearing face masks walk at a downtown street in Hong Kong Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Lam's did not have a specific date when the new regulations would be implemented, but health officials told the Morning Post that nine of the COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong were known to have visited bars and restaurants in the city's nightlife district.

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Hong Kong is not the only place in the region to enact travel restrictions as the coronavirus outbreak has spread to Europe and the U.S.

Taiwan said on Monday it will ban airline passenger transits through the country starting Tuesday through April 7.

Taiwan confirmed 26 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the island to 195.

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With the crisis easing in China, where it began late last year, only the area around the city of Wuhan was still considered high-risk, with people asked to stay inside.
 
Worldwide, nearly 350,000 people have been infected and 15,000 have died from the virus. Over 100,000 people have recovered, mostly in China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.