Hong Kong’s “zero COVID” policies are making working conditions so unbearable for aircrew that they pose a potential safety risk, pilots who have worked in the aviation hub have warned.

In interviews with Al Jazeera, four current and former pilots in Hong Kong  – all of whom requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue – said harsh quarantine rules raised safety concerns due to their effect on the mental health and wellbeing of aircrew.

A fifth pilot said that while he did not believe the situation had “reached that point yet,” the current policies were “pushing the envelope of the known”.

The measures include a “closed-loop” system that sees aircrew work three-week rosters during which they are confined to a hotel room when not flying, followed by an additional two weeks of hotel quarantine. Under the system, which is voluntary, some aircrew have racked up months in isolation without

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