From 1 March masks will no longer be required indoors or outdoors in Hong Kong, including on public transport, only in hospitals
The city Executive Council’s chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu announced the lifting of this last major Covid-19 restriction after almost three years.
The decision follows Macau’s decision to lift its general outdoor mask-wearing rules from 27 February.
Lee said the decision was due to the local coronavirus situation and the winding down of a case surge of influenza and other respiratory viruses.
It is hoped the measure will help lure back business visitors. Hong Kong is one of the last places globally that still imposes a mask mandate. The decision also follows the launch of a government promotional campaign called ‘Hello Hong Kong’ designed to bring back tourists and businesses which have largely deserted the city since 2020.
“The data showed the local epidemic situation was under control and there was no big rebound. Hong Kong has already built a wide and comprehensive immunity barrier,” Lee said. “The overall risk is under control. It is now a suitable time to fully cancel the mask order,” he said.
“We are starting to resume normalcy comprehensively, and that will be very beneficial to economic development, our international competitiveness, as well as our activities which involve everyone in Hong Kong,” the chief executive added.
The authorities expected a slight increase in Covid-19 and flu cases for a short while, but believe risks to the public, and the healthcare system would be “manageable”.