March 16 - 23, 2020


All non-residents banned from entering Hong Kong 

Hong Kong will ban non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries or territories by plane from entering Hong Kong for 14 days starting from Mar 25. Non-Hong Kong residents coming from the Mainland, Macao and Taiwan will also be denied entry to Hong Kong if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days. In addition, all transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be suspended. These new measures are part of a ramp-up effort to stop the surge of coronavirus infections in the city. 

Earlier, the Hong Kong SAR Government issued the Red Outbound Travel Alert on all overseas countries/ territories in view of the continuing and rapid growth in the number of COVID-19 cases globally. All people arriving in Hong Kong from March 19 onwards, regardless of whether they are Hong Kong residents, will be under compulsory quarantine. As the risk in all overseas countries is currently high, members of the public are strongly advised to adjust travel plans and avoid any non-essential travel outside Hong Kong. 

The Government will mandate all arriving persons from the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe to undergo virus tests to identify infected but asymptomatic cases as early as possible. The Hospital Authorities has also set up test centers at the Asia World-Expo and the North Lantau Hospital. Both test centers, in compliance with infection control standards, have designated waiting areas and individual waiting places. Internet access and charging facilities are also provided. 

Enhanced health measures introduced 

Hong Kong is implementing a number of enhanced measures to reduce the risk of a large-scale coronavirus outbreak in the community. These include strengthening the testing protocol for people returning to Hong Kong; adjustments to public services with special work arrangements for civil servants to reduce social contacts and temporary closures of some facilities, deferral of the start date of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination from Mar 27 to Apr 24, strengthening disease prevention at residential care homes for the elderly, and stringent “zero tolerance” enforcement actions against contravention of quarantine order.                

Second batch of chartered flights for Hong Kong people in Hubei 

Four chartered flights will be commissioned on Mar 25 and 26 to bring back Hong Kong residents stranded in Hubei Province. The people who take the chartered flights must be Hong Kong residents and health screenings will be conducted before boarding. Those with fever, abnormal vital signs, respiratory tract symptoms or other signs of infectious diseases will not be allowed to board the plane. The Hong Kong SAR Government will cover the cost of the flight. 


Cathay Pacific to reduce flights to US in April and May

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will reduce capacity by 96% across its passenger network in April and May, in light of the severe drop in demand due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan. The airlines intend to operate a bare skeleton passenger flight schedule in April and May, while keeping the freighter capacity intact. In North America, Cathay Pacific will operate three flights per week to Los Angeles and Vancouver only. Passengers are advised to check its website for checking the availability of flights in their areas.


Hong Kong enjoys press freedom

Hong Kong enjoys press freedom and the Hong Kong SAR Government has been facilitating media organizations and journalists from other countries to cover news in the city. Hong Kong has always adopted a pragmatic and open policy on the employment of professionals, allowing those possessing special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available locally to work in Hong Kong, including journalistic work. 


“StayHomeSafe” quarantine mobile app activated 

Text messages to activate the “StayHomeSafe” mobile app have already been sent out to inbound travelers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport. This is a new monitoring method, combining the existing electronic wristbands with the mobile app, with the aim to better support the compulsory quarantine measures. This multi-tech approach can analyze the change in communication signals with AI and big data to confirm that people under quarantine are staying at home. 

Proposed installation of submarine cable gazetted

The Hong Kong SAR Government has proposed to install a submarine optical fiber cable, part of the new Hong Kong-Americas submarine network, from Chung Hom Kok to the eastern boundary of Hong Kong. This new trans-Pacific optical fiber communications system will connect Hong Kong and the United States and further increase the bandwidth between the two places, thus strengthening Hong Kong as the key communication hub in the Asia-Pacific region. 


World's second freest economy 

Hong Kong ranked second in the 2020 Index of Economic Freedom, with an overall score of 89.1 and high scores of 90 or above in seven out of twelve components adopted for measuring economic freedom. A Government spokesperson expressed disappointment as the city dropped to the second position, after attaining the world’s freest economy title in the past 25 years. Despite challenges from social unrest and turbulences in the past year, the Government stressed that Hong Kong’s institutional strengths are unscathed and its underlying fundamentals remain strong and robust.

HKMA’s response to US Fed’s rate cut  

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) adjusted downward the Base Rate to 0.86 after the US Federal Reserve announced its adjustment for the target range of US federal funds rate by 100 basis points to 0-0.25 percent. Chief Executive of the HKMA Eddie Yue, said Hong Kong’s market has continued to operate in an orderly manner, with the Hong Kong dollar exchange and interest rates remaining stable. “The HKMA will continue to remain vigilant and closely monitor the markets in collaboration with other regulators,” said Mr Yue. “We will also maintain currency stability in Hong Kong in accordance with the Linked Exchange Rate System.”

Local mask production lines approved

Two local masks production lines are now approved under the Local Mask Production Subsidy Scheme. Topwill Passion Limited is expected to supply an average of 2 million masks to the Hong Kong SAR Government every month beginning April 2020 while Shang Manufactory is planning to supply an average of 800,000 masks to the Government every month starting May 5. This is part of the Government’s scheme under the Anti-epidemic Fund to facilitate local production of mask so as to alleviate shortage and build up stock. 

New loan plan for SMEs

The Hong Kong SAR Government welcomes the approval of a new loan guarantee commitment of US$2.56 billion that will help provide timely assistance to enterprises affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Under a new Special 100 percent Guarantee Product, the Government will provide a 100 percent guarantee for approved loans taken out by eligible enterprises. This greatly enhances the chances for enterprises in securing loans. The product is set to launch within April. 

Launch of retail sector subsidy scheme 

The Hong Kong SAR Government has earmarked US$717 million to aid retailers facing financial difficulties during this challenging time. Launching on Mar 23, the Retail Sector Subsidy Scheme is expected to benefit some 70,000 retailers. Each eligible retail stores will receive a one-off subsidy of US$10,256 with the first tranche of payment expected to be made in April. Some 70,000 retailers are expected to benefit from this program. 


Postal services to US subject to delay 

Hongkong Post said that airmail to the United States may be subject to delays of more than one week due to the substantial reduction in flight frequencies. 


Art Basel Hong Kong launches digital platform 

Art Basel launched its Online View Rooms, offering exhibitors a platform to showcase artworks they had planned to show at the cancelled Art Basel Hong Kong 2020. All galleries that were accepted to the 2020 Hong Kong show were invited to participate at no cost for the first iteration of the new digital initiative, which featured an international lineup of 235 leading galleries from 31 countries and territories, and presenting over 2,000 artworks. The Online Viewing Rooms are live through Mar 25. 



  • Overall consumer prices rose by 2.2% in February, year-on-year, larger than the corresponding increase (1.4%) in January 2020. Netting out the effects of all Government’s one-off relief measures, the year-on-year rate of increase in the Composite CPI (i.e. the underlying inflation rate) in February 2020 was 2.5%, smaller than that in January 2020 (3.7%). 
  • The volume of total exports of goods and imports of goods fell by 22.9% and 16.8%, respectively, compared with January 2019. Total export volume to the USA in January 2020 fell 32.2% year-on-year. The total export prices to the USA dipped by 0.1% in the same comparison period.
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 3.7% (Dec 2019 – Feb 2020) from 3.4% (Nov 2019 – Jan 2020). The underemployment rate also increased to 1.5% from 1.2% in the same comparison periods. The deterioration could be attributed to the COVID-19 epidemic as it disrupted a wide range of economic activities and dampened economic sentiment. 


Hong Kong and its Basic Law

The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems". 

Q: What is the role of the People's Liberation Army in Hong Kong under the Basic Law?

A: The maintenance of public order in the HKSAR is the responsibility of the HKSAR Government. The People's Liberation Army stationed in the HKSAR is responsible for the defense of the HKSAR and does not interfere in the local affairs of the HKSAR. In addition to abiding by national laws, members of the garrison shall abide by the laws of the HKSAR. Expenditure for maintaining these military forces is borne by the CPG. (BL Article 14)

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