Hong Kong to drop COVID mask mandate

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is scrapping its COVID-19 mask mandate from Wednesday, nearly three years after the strict measures were imposed in the financial hub.

“I announce that the masking requirement will be completely canceled starting tomorrow, March 1, including for indoors, outdoors and (on) public transportation,” Chief Executive John Lee said at a media briefing on Tuesday.

The Asian city was one of the last places in the world still to require people to wear masks in almost all public settings.

It was also mandatory in Hong Kong for people over the age of two to wear face coverings, failing which they could face a penalty of up to HK$10,000 (€1,204; $ 1,275).

“We think this is the best timing to make this decision. It is a clear message to show Hong Kong is resuming normalcy,” Lee said.

The move comes after Hong Kong’s government launched a promotional campaign called “Hello Hong Kong” to bring back tourists and businesses which have stayed away from the former British colony since the start of the pandemic.

Hong Kong, along with neighboring Macau, followed China’s stringent zero-COVID policy for much of the last three years. People entering the country were required to spend up to 21 days in hotel quarantine.

Macau too has announced plans to drop mask requirements for most areas, except public transport and hospitals.

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