After 945 days of mask mandate, Hong Kong is dropping the obligation as it seeks to return to normality. With the ending of the rule, the region is hopeful to revive the Asian financial hub following the pandemic-induced havoc.
1. Scraping masks
As of March 1, masks are no longer mandatory in Hong Kong, the region’s Special Administrative chief executive John Lee confirmed: “I have always told people that I will be monitoring the situation of Hong Kong in regard to the total number of infected cases, the overall trend and the different data that indicate the situation of Covid in Hong Kong.”
After looking at all the data, the trend and the fact that the winter surge is nearing the end, in order to give people a very clear message that Hong Kong is resuming to normalcy, I think this is the right time to make the decision.John Lee, Hong Kong Special Administrative Chief Executive
Hong Kong’s mandate, enforced through fines that could reach more than $1,000, had required facial coverings in all public spaces. The rule came into effect for public transport on July 15, 2020 and was expanded two weeks later to include indoor and outdoor areas. However, by that time most people in the city had begun wearing masks months earlier as reports of Covid-19 infections spread, leading to panic buying and shortages as early as January 2020.
The Hong Kong administration believes that after continuous assessments of several factors, it’s safe now to bring the region back to normality. According to Lee, the Hong Kong government has been monitoring when to lift the mask requirement for almost two months.
Its neighbor Macao also scrapped mandatory masks on February 27, following a continuous stable epidemic in the Asian region.
2. Reviving the economy
With the masking requirement removed, Hong Kong is slowly resuming to its routine comprehensively, namely with regards to reviving its economy, which has long been known as a financial hub. Lee added that with the end of the mask mandate, “it will be very beneficial to economic development, our international competitiveness as well as our activities which involve everyone in Hong Kong.”