Covid-19

COVID-19

Hong Kong confirms it will ease Covid-19 restrictions from April 21

Hong Kong confirms it will ease Covid-19 restrictions from April 21
People wear face masks as they walk in Central, Hong Kong, China, 11 April 2022. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE

HONG KONG, April 14 (Reuters) - Hong Kong confirmed on Thursday it will ease some of the world's most stringent Covid-19 restrictions, allowing beauty parlours, cinemas and gyms to reopen from April 21 as infections in the global financial hub hover below 2,000 per day.

The Chinese-ruled city has been hit by a fifth wave of coronavirus since early this year that has battered business and led to more than 8,600 deaths, many in the past two months, although cases have dropped in recent days.

Coronavirus restrictions have battered businesss and helped fuel a net outflow of around 70,000 people in February and March, up from nearly 17,000 in December, raising concerns over the city’s status as a global financial centre.

The government said on Thursday up to four people could gather at any time from April 21, up from two currently, and restaurants could stay open until 10 p.m., extending opening hours for dining venues across the city from 6 p.m. Schools are also due to resume face-to-face classes from next week.

Bars, beaches and barbeque sites remain closed.

“Cases have dropped from a peak of over 70,000 a day to over 1,000 today; if the … government still doesn’t relax (the restrictions), I think it’ll have a big impact to Hong Kong’s society and economy,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press briefing.

The humber of daily infections in Hong Kong have been below 2,000 for a week, and the city recorded 1,272 cases on Wednesday.

Hong Kong’s border has effectively been shut since 2020 with few flights able to land and hardly any passengers allowed to transit, isolating a city that had built a reputation as a global hub.

For some businesses, the relaxations may be too late as many restaurants say they have had to lay off staff as they struggle to pay rent in one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets.

Until this year, Hong Kong had been far more successful at controlling the coronavirus than many other cities its size, but the latest wave of infections swamped its world-class medical system, and public confidence in the city government is at an all-time low.

By Clare Jim and Jessie Pang

(Reporting By Clare Jim and Jessie Pang, Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider
Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Download the Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox.

+ Your election day questions answered
+ What's different this election
+ Test yourself! Take the quiz