I Saw Firsthand What It Takes To Keep COVID Out Of Hong Kong. It Felt Like a Different Planet.

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis. It was originally published by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.

As I walked off the jet bridge into Hong Kong International Airport, I stepped into another world. I was home for Christmas, to see my parents for the first time in two years. But first, I had to get through a gantlet of COVID-19 precautions that envelop the city like a protective bubble.

Incoming travelers were greeted by gowned, gloved and masked workers, who directed us through the terminal. As I followed the passengers ahead of me, I was unnerved by the shuttered stores. Every other time I’ve flown in and out of Hong Kong, the airport hums with thousands of travelers, children scampering across the polished floors, announcements intoned in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. The terminal was now eerily still. My feet made too much noise as I trudged along the path marked by guardrails.