(CTN NEWS) – The COVID-19 mask mandate in Hong Kong will be removed, chief executive John Lee announced on Tuesday, to entice tourists and businesses and bring about a return to normalcy more than three years after the introduction of strict regulations in the financial hub.
Lee announced during a press conference that the measure would go into effect on Wednesday. One of the only places on earth that still enforces a mask requirement is the special administrative area of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong and Macao have adhered to China’s zero-COVID policy for three years. Although Hong Kong began to relax its strict COVID-19 regulations this year, mask use has been consistent since 2020.
“This decision should be made now, in our opinion. It sends a crystal-clear message that Hong Kong is returning to normal, “Lee uttered.
He said administrators could force workers and visitors to wear masks in high-risk locations like hospitals.
Hong Kong Launched Market Campaign Called “Hey Hong Kong”
On February 26, Macao’s neighboring special administrative region announced it would no longer require masks for most sites, except public transportation, hospitals, and other locations.
Residents of mainland China are not forced to wear masks outside, although the government does advise doing so in interior public spaces like airports and train stations.
Hong Kong’s decision to ban masks comes as the city’s government launched a marketing campaign called “Hey Hong Kong” to entice travelers and companies that have avoided the former British territory since 2020 to return.
Even at schools, where little students as young as two years old were required to wear masks outside of their homes, Hong Kong steadfastly adhered to its mask ban.
Several students and instructors have expressed concern regarding the effects on learning and child development.
Although officials declared last week that this would be eliminated starting from Mar. 1 for secondary school pupils and from Mar. 15 for elementary schools and nurseries.
Students must still perform daily quick antigen tests to screen for COVID-19.
Business organizations, embassies, and many locals have criticized Hong Kong’s COVID-19 laws, claiming they endangered the city’s ability to compete and its reputation as a major international financial hub.
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