Hong Kong Lifts Mask Mandate After 959 Days

Chief executive says city is 'resuming normalcy'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2023 8:47 PM CST
Hong Kong Lifts Mask Mandate After 959 Days
Commuters wearing face masks browse their smartphones as they ride on a subway train in Hong Kong on Feb. 7, 2023.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

Hong Kongers traveling to work Wednesday morning might see something unusual—each other's unmasked faces. Chief Executive John Lee said Tuesday that as of the next day, the city would no longer require masks to be worn on public transport or in outdoor and indoor public areas, the New York Times reports. The move ends one of the world's last remaining citywide mask mandates, which took effect in July 2020, initially on public transport and then in other public areas. During the 959 days it was in effect, the standard fine for being maskless was $5,000 Hong Kong dollars, around $637 US, though it could be as high as $1,000 US in some circumstances, CNN reports. Nearby Macao lifted its mask mandate on Monday

"Evidence shows that the coronavirus is under control in Hong Kong, without major signs of rebound," Lee said. "In order to give people a very clear message that Hong Kong is resuming normalcy, I think this is the right time to make the decision," he said. Masks will still be required in hospitals, homes for the elderly, and similar high-risk areas, Lee said. Masks were widely worn in Hong Kong in the months before the mandate was introduced, and many residents plan to keep wearing them for now. "Even though now the government says you don’t have to have a mask from tomorrow, I’ve still got masks at home, and am still a bit worried about the pandemic situation, so probably I will continue to wear them for a little while," Harrison Yau tells the AP. (More Hong Kong stories.)

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