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December 15 - 21, 2020
Social distancing measures extended
Social distancing measures currently in place in Hong Kong will be maintained until Jan 6 and may be tightened if the epidemic situation deteriorates, said Secretary for Food & Health Professor Sophia Chan at a press conference (Dec 21), adding that there is no room to relax the social distancing measures put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19. All government employees, except those providing emergency and essential public services, will continue to work from home until Jan 6 next year. In order to prevent imported cases, testing requirements for persons arriving at Hong Kong from foreign places have been strengthened. In addition to testing upon arrival, inbound travelers from overseas have to undergo testing on day 12 of the quarantine period. After having completed the 14-day quarantine, they also have to undergo another test on the 19th or 20th day following their arrival in Hong Kong. Effective Dec 22, Hong Kong will ban flights from the United Kingdom (UK) in response to the new strain of COVID-19 found in the country. People who have already arrived in the city from the UK will be required to undergo quarantine for 21 days.
New round of Anti-epidemic Fund
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is seeking funding approval of US$820 million from the Legislative Council to launch a new round of the Anti-epidemic Fund to help sectors hard hit by COVID-19. At a press conference (Dec 17), Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told reporters that US$705 million would be used to subsidize specific enterprises and people in the affected industries, with a targeted and focused approach to help those who have been hard hit. They include gyms and other places that had to close down as part of the social distancing measures implemented, along with the catering industry that faced the challenge of restricted hours for dine-in services. “We are facing a very difficult, tough fiscal position that we have got to be prudent,” said Mr Cheung. “But at the same time, we have got to be compassionate, responsive and (we have to) strike the right balance. I think we have struck the right balance here with this package.”
Court judgment welcomed
The HKSAR Government welcomed the judgment delivered (Dec 21) by the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) on the Emergency Regulations Ordinance. It said that the judgment upheld the compatibility of the ordinance with the Basic Law and the proportionality of the restrictions of rights in prohibiting the use of facial coverings at public order events contained in the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation. The Government said it fully echoed the CFA’s views that, when striking a fair balance between societal and individual interests, the interests of Hong Kong as a whole should be taken into account since the rule of law was being undermined by the actions of masked lawbreakers who were seemingly free to act with impunity by concealing their identities.
Government opposes remarks
The HKSAR Government strongly objected (Dec 19) to the remarks made by a US official regarding the 12 absconders and expressed strong dissatisfaction with these remarks which had totally disregarded the facts and confused about what was right and wrong. The Government pointed out that the 12 are wanted persons and suspected of committing various serious offences in Hong Kong. Instead of facing their legal liabilities in Hong Kong, they have chosen to flee through illegal means to evade their legal liabilities. They were arrested in Mainland waters by the Mainland law enforcement agencies according to their laws for suspected illegal crossing of border (boundary). The HKSAR Government will not interfere with the law enforcement and judicial actions of other jurisdictions. After the offences committed by these 12 absconders in the Mainland have been dealt with in accordance with the law by the Mainland authorities, the HKSAR Government will ask for their return to Hong Kong where their suspected offences committed in Hong Kong are to be dealt with. The spokesman reiterated that those who break the law must face justice. 
Green and sustainable finance
The HKSAR Government welcomes (Dec 17) the launch of Green and Sustainable Finance Strategic Plan. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui, said the plan sets out the shared vision to promote green and sustainable finance in Hong Kong and beyond. “This echoes the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 as announced by the Chief Executive in her 2020 Policy Address, demonstrating our strong commitment and determination to boost investments conducive to low-carbon transformation in Hong Kong,” he said. Mr Hui invited the financial sector and relevant stakeholders to participate in taking forward the Strategic Plan and capitalizing on the enormous green finance opportunities presented by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Separately, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) Eddie Yue said the HKMA is fully committed to green and sustainable finance. As the founding member and first regional anchor of the recently launched Alliance for Green Commercial Banks, the HKMA will partner International Finance Corporation to facilitate green knowledge sharing, research on green investment opportunities, provide green finance training sessions, and provide thought leadership to advance the green agenda globally.
Hong Kong team wins medals at Mathematical Olympiad
A team of six Hong Kong students has won one gold, four silver and one bronze medals at the 36th China Mathematical Olympiad (Nov 22 – 28). Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung congratulated the Hong Kong team for their outstanding performance. He said with the adoption of the six directional recommendations set out in the review report of the Task Force on Review of School, the promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education would also be strengthened.
No Limits - Promoting inclusiveness through the arts
Check out this recently launched short documentary that promotes inclusiveness and understanding through the arts in Hong Kong. The 18-minute film chronicles how, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, participants from different abilities in Hong Kong came together to work on a showcase performance with ILL-Abilities, an international dance crew of differently-abled dancers. In January, some members of ILL-Abilities visited Hong Kong to perform and conduct workshops for local participants. Due to the pandemic, subsequent activities were conducted online, culminating in the public Showcase that was filmed for online screening. The project is co-presented by Hong Kong Arts Festival and The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down to 6.3% for the Sep – Nov period compared to the previous three-month period. The underemployment rate also fell to 3.4% for the period.

  • Hong Kong’s total goods exports decreased 0.1% year-on-year in October while the volume of goods imports for the month rose 1% over October 2019. Prices of goods exports and imports decreased 0.7% and 0.6% year-on-year for the month.

  • Overall consumer prices in November fell 0.2% year-on-year, the same as the decrease in October. Netting out the effects of all the Government’s one-off relief measures, the year-on-year rate of increase in November’s underlying inflation rate was 0.3%, marginally smaller than October's 0.4%.
Hong Kong and its Basic Law
The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the HKSAR. Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems”.

Q: Have the laws previously in force in Hong Kong been maintained?
A: The Basic Law provides that laws previously in force in Hong Kong, that is, the common law, rules of equity, ordinances, subordinate legislation and customary law, shall be maintained and adopted as laws of the HKSAR, except for any that contravenes the Basic Law, and subject to any amendment by the HKSAR legislature. (BL Articles 8; 18; 160)
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