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HK ends mask mandate 3 years since Covid started

It is reportedly planned to eliminate the obligation to wear masks both inside and outside.

Nonetheless, they assert that the requirement to wear a mask will still be in place in some locations, such as healthcare facilities. The Post has heard that Hong Kong is poised to abolish the last major Covid-19 limitations that were implemented nearly three years ago by lifting its contentious mask rule as soon as Wednesday.

The requirement for facial coverings both indoors and outside will be eliminated simultaneously, according to sources on Monday. One source predicted that the announcement would be made on Tuesday and that the change would go into effect the following day.

The Hong Kong mask mandate was implemented in July 2020 and has since been extended every two weeks, with the most recent administrative term scheduled to finish on March 8. The restriction for wearing outdoor masks in neighboring Macau was repealed on Monday, but many locals and visitors said they would still do so.

But, the insiders claimed that even after Hong Kong followed suit, mask wearing would still be required in some locations, such as hospitals. Also, they advised the general population to use masks when traveling by public transit.

Presently, the only persons excused from wearing the coverings outside are those who go to country parks or engage in demanding physical exercise.

Ho Iat-seng, the chief executive of Macau, met with Hong Kong’s mayor John Lee Ka-chiu on Saturday. No mention was made of easing the remaining pandemic restrictions, despite the government’s assertion that the two presidents’ discussions were centered on deepening collaboration and exchanges in the framework of the Greater Bay Area.

Lee was due in Macau on Thursday, and it was anticipated that one of the main topics of conversation would be Beijing’s plan to integrate 11 southern Chinese towns into a bay area. Finance head Paul Chan Mo-po refused to provide further information when questioned about the plan to abolish the mask mandate at a Post discussion on Monday; instead, he just stated that it would happen “soon.”

Hong Kong has steadily loosened one of the strictest pandemic control regimes in the world during the last few months. Visitors to public hospitals are simply required to provide a negative quick antigen test from the previous day, as of this Wednesday. As the population had already developed a high level of hybrid immunity, medical professionals have long encouraged authorities to abandon the mask program.

Dr. Siddharth Sridhar, a clinical assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, stated on Monday that mask wearing cannot completely prevent a Covid epidemic, as we can see from the fifth pandemic wave last year.

“As for influenza prevention, we’ve never depended on a mask mandate either.”

Residents have been hit with on-the-spot fines of HK$5,000 (US$637) for breaking the law, according to Cap 599I Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation, the government regulation that governs the mandate. According to the city’s budget plan, which was published earlier this month, authorities made HK$750 million from violations of Covid-19 regulations in the 2022–2023 fiscal year.

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