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Hong Kong lifts mask mandate, signaling end to COVID-19 restrictions

ChinaHong Kong lifts mask mandate, signaling end to COVID-19 restrictions

Hong Kong is set to lift its mask mandate on Wednesday, marking the end of all COVID-19 restrictions in the city. This announcement was made by Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Tuesday, who declared that the “time is right for the mask mandate to be scrapped” in a media briefing ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting.

Lee stated that the focus will now be on reviving the economy and boosting development momentum in the city. The decision was made to lift the mandate all at once rather than in phases, as it was deemed that a phased approach would cause inconvenience to residents.

While high-risk venues such as hospitals and nursing homes may still require masks, the decision to drop the mandate was based on pandemic statistics, which show no sign of rebound, and the fact that Hong Kong has built an extensive community defense against COVID-19. Winter influenza has also almost come to an end, and the risk is under control, according to Lee.

The mask mandate was introduced in July 2020, months after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the city. The Secretary for Health, Lo Chung-mau, who also spoke at the media briefing, said that the government decided not to lift the mandate in phases because partial retention cannot effectively prevent disease and is difficult to enforce in daily life.

The dropping of the mask mandate applies to both indoor and outdoor premises, and Lo expects a slight increase in COVID-19 infection cases following the scrapping of the order. However, he added that the overall risk in the city is controllable. He suggested that vulnerable groups such as the elderly, chronic patients, and people with underlying health conditions continue to wear face masks despite the lifting of the mandate.

Lo expressed hope that Hong Kong would return to full-on normalcy and that “there is a smile on everyone’s face.”

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