Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules

Image credit: AFAR Magazine

This week, Hong Kong will remove almost all of its COVID restrictions, following mainland China’s lead.

A mandatory PCR test will no longer be required of visitors to the city, a special administrative region of China, as of Thursday.

The immunisation pass system will also be eliminated, but masks will still be required in public areas.

The city, which has historically had some of the strictest regulations in the world, is taking a bold step.

On Thursday, the restriction on the maximum number of individuals who may congregate outside will also be eliminated.

As part of the steps to start restoring the city, this was expanded from four people in October.

High vaccination rates were one of the justifications given for removing limitations by Hong Kong’s leader, John Lee.

Government statistics show that more than 83% of the population has taken three doses of the vaccine, compared to 93% who have received two.

The most vulnerable age group, those over 80, has only received 64% of the recommended three doses.

Hong Kong has employed mRNA vaccinations, notably the German-made BioNTech shot, which is more effective than mainland China’s vaccines.

In place of the vaccine pass, which since its implementation in February has restricted access to public places for the unvaccinated, Mr Lee noted that the city would introduce “more concentrated measures,” such as increasing vaccination for the elderly and children.

According to official figures, there have been more than 11,000 fatalities in Hong Kong from more than 2.5 million cases of COVID.

Since the outbreak began, the city has largely followed the lead of mainland China in its efforts to contain the virus, including initiatives to use a “zero-COVID” policy to do so.

A few weeks before Hong Kong lifted the COVID restrictions, mainland China adopted a similar measure in response to widespread protests against the restrictive restrictions.

On Monday and Tuesday, Beijing presented fresh proposals to loosen travel restrictions. Hong Kong has pledged to completely reopen its borders with the rest of China by the middle of January.

On the mainland, there has recently been an increase in cases, and reports indicate that hospitals are overcrowded and seniors are dying.

Hong Kong is a part of China and is subject to the principle of “one nation, two systems,” although Beijing has recently reinforced its hold.

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