Hong Kong ends world’s last COVID-19 mask mandate

HONG KONG: In a move designed to attract more visitors and business and restore normality after more than three years of COVID-19 restrictions, Hong Kong’s chief executive John Lee said the financial hub ended its mask mandate on 1st March.

The special administrative region was one of the last in the world that still enforced a mask mandate.

Over the past three years, Hong Kong and Macau both followed China’s zero-COVID policy.

"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, adding that in high risk areas, such as hospitals, administrators can decide whether staff and visitors must wear masks.

Currently in mainland China, people are no longer required to wear masks outdoors, but are encouraged by authorities to do so in public indoor areas, such as airports and train stations.

Removing the mask mandate comes after the Hong Kong government launched a promotional campaign this month called, "Hello Hong Kong," which aims to bring back tourists and businesses.

Business groups, diplomats and many residents had criticized the city’s COVID-19 rules, stressing that they threatened Hong Kong’s competitiveness and stature as an international financial centre.