Hong Kong Said To Scrap Mask Mandate By Early March
Hong Kong might scrap its mask mandate as soon as early March, Ming Pao reported, a major step as one of the world’s last Covid holdouts works to return to normal and reclaim its status as a global business hub.
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong might scrap its mask mandate as soon as early March, according to people familiar with the matter, a major step as one of the world’s last Covid holdouts works to reclaim its status as a global business hub.
Indoor and outdoor mask requirements may be removed at the same time, though face coverings will still need to be worn at high-risk places including hospitals, the people said. The news was first reported Monday by Ming Pao.
The South China Morning Post had previously reported that residents would be allowed to unmask by the end of next month.
When asked for comment, the health bureau referred Bloomberg to recent remarks from health secretary Lo Chung-mau.
Lo said in a Commercial Radio program on Saturday that authorities are examining data and plan to relax the mask mandate at a suitable time.
Hong Kong to Give Away 500,000 Air Tickets to Revive Tourism
Hong Kong last week extended mask regulations by two weeks to March 8, even as it kicked off its pricey “Hello Hong Kong” campaign aimed at luring back visitors. The city is working to bolster its global footing again, giving away air tickets to tourists and again hosting VIP events including Art Basel — but masks have remained a deterrent and undermined the idea that everything is back to normal.
The measures began almost three years ago as the city fought to keep the virus at bay, and have remained in place even as most of the world drops pandemic-era restrictions. They’re Hong Kong’s last pandemic restrictions, after the city eased most virus curbs and reopened to the world in December following China’s pivot away from Covid Zero.
Neighboring casino hub Macau eased its own outdoor mask policy starting Monday, saying its Covid situation was stable.
Hong Kong leader John Lee has repeatedly said he hopes to remove the rule after the winter surge ends, but hasn’t given further specifics.
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