Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said on Tuesday that the government does not plan to ease any more anti-pandemic measures within the city before the second half of May 2022 and will not scrap current border controls. This follows a call from a government vaccine advisor to hasten the second phase of relaxing social distancing restrictions.
The second phase is expected to include the reopening of beaches, bars, and clubs, the limit on public gatherings being increased to eight people, and dining in at restaurants being extended to 12am.
The CE made these remarks when asked to address government advisor and CUHK professor Ivan Hung’s comments; Hung had reasoned on Monday that the relaxation of strict pandemic rules should occur sooner because most of Hong Kong has achieved herd immunity.
“We will continue to press ahead with the three stages of [social distancing] relaxation that I announced on March 21. The second stage is intended to take place about a month from the first phase, maybe the second half of May,” said Lam, adding that she was confident that the “high level of hybrid immunity” among Hongkongers will make a rebound in Covid-19 infection numbers “quite unlikely.”
When asked whether the route-specific flight ban (which has seen flight routes suspended for seven days if three or more positive cases are discovered) would be scrapped, Lam said that the government had to continue to guard against the “importation of infected cases into Hong Kong, especially when many places are already removing the restrictions and social distancing measures.”
Lam added that “certain adjustments” have already been made, allowing non-residents to enter the city and shortening flight ban lengths to five days starting May 1. “For the time being, we don’t have any plans to further relax the border controls, the flight ban, or the flight suspension measures that we have put in place,” she said.
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