Hongkongers’ hopes for stringent social distancing regulations and flight bans on eight countries to be lifted before Lunar New Year were dashed when Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Friday evening that the measures would be extended until February 3 at least. In addition, transit flights from more than 150 countries considered high-risk have been banned until February 15.
Lam also added to these restrictions – put in place to curb the Omicron-fuelled fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong – the cancellation of 15 of the city’s Lunar New Year fairs. In-person classes for kindergarten and primary school students have also been suspended until after the Chinese New Year holidays.
However, the authorities have stated that if the current outbreak of the virus is stemmed, they will consider reopening certain venues such as beauty parlours from February 4 onwards under a vaccine bubble arrangement, where vaccination will be mandatory to enter these venues.
Meanwhile, the CE warned that there would be an increase in the cost of certain imported goods, and perhaps even a shortage of some products, due to the reduced number of cargo flights to Hong Kong. These concerns were echoed by Gilly Wong, Chief Executive of The Consumer Council, who predicted that daily necessities are likely to become more expensive based on the average price increase of food and personal care products stocked in certain supermarket chains in the city.