After 959 days, Hong Kong abandons the mask mandate

After 959 days, Hong Kong abandons the mask mandate
Source: Pixabay

Hong Kong has finally dropped its mask mandate after 959 days, after it was first imposed on July 15, 2020, in the aftermath of the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

According to CNN, the mandate, which was enforced through fines of up to $1,000, required facial coverings in all public places.

The rule went into effect for public transportation and was expanded two weeks later to include indoor and outdoor areas – despite the fact that the vast majority of people in the city had started wearing masks months earlier as reports of coronavirus infections spread, causing panic buying and shortages as early as January of that year.

The mandate will be fully lifted on Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee said while addressing a press briefing.

“We are now returning to normalcy,” CNN quoted Lee as saying.

In an effort to boost tourism, Hong Kong has relaxed several other major Covid restrictions in recent months, most notably mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals.

Also addressing the same news briefing, Health Secretary Lo Mau-chung said that with the lifting of the mask mandate, “we have now removed all epidemic restrictions”.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a smile on everyone’s face now,” he said.

He did, however, add that the government still recommends wearing masks in “high risk” settings such as nursing homes and hospitals.

Most other Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, have either fully or partially relaxed their mask mandates in recent months.