Covid-19 rule breakers could derail Hong Kong reopening, chief executive warns

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Hong Kong’s plan to further ease Covid-19 curbs that have isolated the city and weighed on its economy could be derailed if people do not comply with virus protocols, Chief Executive John Lee warned on Tuesday.

“If everyone follows the rules, our road will be easier to walk,” he said at a news briefing. “If there are too many violations, then our measures cannot easily be further relieved.”

Lee said there has been a roughly 8 percent to 9 percent non-compliance rate with compulsory testing orders in the past two months, adding that over the weekend, action was taken against some 1,000 people who defied the protocols.

The authorities last week vowed to crack down on fraudulent medical certificates issued for exemptions from Covid-19 vaccinations after arresting five doctors suspected of giving out such notes.

Lee said more than 20,000 fake vaccine exemption certificates were found.

“We are also seeing cases of people uploading fake RAT results, some with the intention to get holidays,” he added.

Hong Kong ended hotel quarantine for inbound travelers on Monday, in the most substantial move yet to end its pandemic isolation.

Lee signaled when announcing the move last week that more easing was likely, as the city tries to salvage its status as a global financial center.

Under the new rules, people entering the city no longer need to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before departure, with a rapid-antigen test now enough, although they still need to complete a PCR test upon arrival.

In the three days after they get to Hong Kong, travelers face restrictions on their movements, including being banned from going to bars and eating at restaurants.

“If you don’t do this, the success of the 0+3 plan will not be as effective because there may be a rebound in cases,” Lee said, referring to Covid-19 testing measures. “They will affect my plan.”




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