HK Gov’t To Review COVID Restrictions
HONG KONG – Just days after acknowledging that lots of global banks are “losing patience” with the Chinese territory’s COVID-related curbs, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Sunday that the local authorities intend to review the restrictions on Monday, reported Reuters on Sunday evening (20 March, SGT).
Notably, Hong Kong imposes some of the world’s strictest COVID-related restrictions. These include hotel quarantine of up to two weeks for inbound travellers and prohibition of flights coming from 9 nations, including Australia and the UK.
The Chinese territory also prohibited gatherings of over 2 people, while most public places have been shuttered, including playgrounds and beaches. Wearing masks is mandatory, and face-to-face learning for students has been banned.
On Saturday, the government registered a 3-week low of 16,597 new COVID cases, down from over 20,000 a day earlier. The virus resurgence has affected elderly care homes and paralysed many parts of Hong Kong.
In recent weeks, the streets in the city’s Central area looked like a ghost town, with bars and restaurants closed, while supermarket shelves lie empty as people panic-bought necessities due to fears about a potential city-wide lockdown.
Many businesses across Hong Kong have been forced to close down, including bars, gyms, and restaurants, but people are urging the local authorities to relax COVID restrictions so they can earn a living.
So far this month, the city has witnessed a net outflow of around 50,000 people versus over 71,000 in February and almost 17,000 in December before the 5th COVID wave started.
Although Hong Kong is officially adhering to a “zero-COVID” strategy, recent actions and policy tweaks by the government indicate it is shifting away from that strategy as most other major cities across the world are learning to live with the virus.
The official policy is the same as that of mainland China, which is also facing a spike in COVID cases and has restricted the movement of millions of people. In turn, the situation has impacted some of China’s industrial hubs.