Hong Kong lifts Covid mask mandate
Hong Kong, China, Mar 1 (EFE).- Hong Kong lifted the mandatory use of a mask outdoors and indoors on Wednesday.
The easing of the measure imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic comes at a time when the city’s government is trying to revive the city’s status as a global financial hub after almost three years of strict controls.
The city’s chief executive, John Lee, announced Tuesday the lifting of the mask mandate, imposed in July 2020 and whose violation was punishable by large fines, to attract businesses and tourists back to the city.
“We think this is the best time to make this decision. It is a clear message to show Hong Kong is resuming normalcy,” Lee said.
However, the authorities still recommend the use of a mask in closed and poorly ventilated places where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, as well as for the elderly, or those in poor health or suffering from chronic diseases.
Starting Wednesday, secondary school students will no linger have to undergo daily rapid Covid-19 tests or have their temperature taken in order to enter schools, although the rule will remain in effect for primary schools and kindergartens for another two weeks.
“Teachers, of course, would prefer that students not wear masks. But some children may not yet feel ready for such a radical change,” Spanish professor Nicolas Arriaga, head of the language department at International College Hong Kong, told EFE.
The teacher said that on Wednesday around half of the students still came wearing masks.
According to the teacher, while the majority continue to use the mask out of habit, some do so at the request of their parents, others for protection and some even for fashion reasons.
The compulsory requirement of masks at all times except when exercising outdoors or taking group photos was the last of the coronavirus restrictions imposed in the semi-autonomous city.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hong Kong has followed a zero-tolerance policy against Covid-19 similar to that implemented in mainland China, which included isolating those infected in specialized facilities.
Although the former colony did not impose strict lockdowns, commercial, educational, cultural and tourist activity remained at a minimum and the borders remained strictly closed for more than two years. EFE