Hong Kong Ending Its Mask Rules, One of the Longest Mask Mandates in the World So Far


Hong Kong, one of Asia’s most extensive central business and trading hubs, is finally dropping its mask mandate. This comes after a gruelling 959-day-long stretch that started almost 2.5 years ago.

Hong Kong started its mask mandate on 29 July 2020 in response to the sudden endless waves of COVID-19 spikes.

As the pandemic raged throughout the Western world, Hong Kong managed to contain the virus by limiting public gatherings to two people and closing restaurants after 6 pm.

Previously, people were required to wear masks in all public places, including markets, shopping malls, and bars. While enforced, the rule resulted in fines of up to HK$10,000 (SG$1,720). Police regularly patrolled and handed out HK$5,000 fines to transgressors on site.

However, over time, the pandemic mellowed out with the implementation of vaccines and growing crowd immunity.

Hong Kong And COVID-19

At one point near the start of the year, Hong Kong possessed the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world again, with the city’s fatality rate nearly six times that of the US.

Its severely under-vaccinated elderly population was hit the hardest last March when the newly mutated Omicron variant tore through the city’s defences.

Ten months later, their elderly population remains under-vaccinated, with only 70% of those aged 80 or above receiving two shots of either Pfizer or Sinovac.

Though research by scientists at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has shown that three doses offer significantly more protection against COVID-19, it was only a year ago that 15% of the elderly population above 60 years old were fully vaccinated.

And till this date, only 83% of the population is fully vaccinated, despite the glaring evidence that suggests its importance.

Then Why The Sudden End to The Mask Mandate?

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee, announced on Tuesday at a press conference that the mandate imposed in July 2020 would be scrapped. This is to draw businesses and tourists back to the city.

Source: isd.wecast.hk

“With the masking requirement removed, we are starting to restore 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,” said Chief Executive Lee.

Meanwhile, secondary school students in Hong Kong will no longer be required to take daily COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RAT, known more widely as the ART here in Singapore).

However, the Education Bureau announced last Tuesday that the rule will remain in place for primary schoolers and kindergarteners for an additional two weeks.

Being one of the last places on Earth to mandate mask-wearing, it was also one of the last to remove it. At one point, masks were required even when exercising in gyms or public areas.

What else has Hong Kong done in response to the situation?

Hong Kong planned to welcome visitors back into the country in a separate attempt called the “Hello Hong Kong” global campaign by giving out 500,000 free round-trip air tickets.
Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong Express, and Hong Kong Airlines will distribute these air tickets through 3 phases.


As for us Singaporeans, Cathay Pacific has recently announced a campaign lasting from 2 March to 8 March that awards 12,500 free round-trip tickets.

All you need is to answer questions using a Cathay Pacific membership, which can be applied for on the airline’s website. Sign in during the campaign period and answer three questions correctly.

Prizes will be awarded to the first 12,500 participants that answer the questions correctly. Winners in Singapore will be announced on 20 March 2023.

Top Image: Lewis Tse / Shutterstock.com