March 31 - April 6, 2020
Entry restrictions for non-Hong Kong residents extended
In view of the latest situation of the COVID-19 outbreak, Hong Kong will extend the entry restriction on non-Hong Kong residents, along with quarantine and airport transit measures, until further notice. All transit services at the Hong Kong International Airport will continue to be suspended until further notice. All travellers coming from Macao and Taiwan, including Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong residents, will be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine, which is the same as the arrangements for people entering Hong Kong from the Mainland.
Hong Kong residents arrive safely from Peru
A total of 65 Hong Kong residents who took chartered flights, arranged by the Hong Kong SAR (HKSAR) Government, arrived safely in Hong Kong from Peru on Apr 5. Upon arrival, they went to the Centre for Health Protection’s testing center for COVID-19 testing. If tested negative, they can return home or proceed to a designated place to under go the 14-day compulsory quarantine. Peru had declared a state of national emergency mid-March, imposing very strict restrictions on all land and air traffic. The chartered flights were arranged with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (OCMFA) and the Chinese Embassy in the Republic of Peru. The cost of the flight is borne by the passengers. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up with the OCMFA and the Chinese Embassy in Peru to provide assistance to affected Hong Kong residents who remain in Peru.
Door-to-door specimen collection service available
Inbound travellers who are under the COVID-19 surveillance program can make use of a door-to-door specimen collection service to submit their deep throat saliva specimen to the Department of Health (DH) for coronavirus testing. Under the Enhanced Laboratory Surveillance Programme for COVID-19 testing, DH is providing free COVID-19 testing service for asymptomatic inbound travellers from overseas. The Cyberport Startup Alumni Association, with two of its member companies, GoGoTech (“GOGOVAN”) and HK PICK-UP (“Pikcupp”), are providing this door-to-door service at a cost of US$12.80.

Bars and pubs to close for two weeks
With the emergence of COVID-19 cases related to bars and bands cluster and further spread of cases to people who had not visited the bars, the Hong Kong SAR Government is ordering the closure of bars and pubs, club-house, and catering premises that sell or supply intoxicating liquors for on-site consumption, for a period of 14 days starting from 6pm on Apr 3. This is to further enhance social distancing and curb social activities in the effort to prevent the further spread of the virus in the community.

Business restrictions gazetted
The Hong Kong SAR Government has gazetted (Apr 1) the Prevention and Control of Disease (Business and Premises) Regulation, empowering the Secretary for Food and Health, to issue directions, for public health reasons, to restrict the mode of operation , operating hours, or require the closure of beauty parlours, clubhouses, nightclubs as well as premises for karaoke, mahjong tin-kau and massage establishments. The Secretary issued (Apr 1) directions for the closures of karaoke, mahjong tin-kau establishments, and clubs as well as the suspension of karaoke and mahjong tin-kau activities in catering premises and clubhouses, through April 15. This is part of measures to further enhance social distancing and protect public health.
HKMA and banking sector extend support for SMEs
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the banking sector introduced (Apr 3) several new initiatives to alleviate cash-flow pressure for the city's SMEs affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The new measures, which include obtaining US dollars through the US Fed's repo facility, aim to increase liquidity in the banking sector to support local economic activities.
Free trade agreement launched
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Investment Agreement (IA), signed between Hong Kong and the Philippines in March this year, will take effect on May 12. Under the FTA, Hong Kong service providers will enjoy better business opportunities and legal certainty in market access for a comprehensive range of service sectors in the Philippines. The IA will provide Hong Kong enterprises with fair and equitable treatment as well as free transfer of investments and returns. With the latest agreement with the Philippines, a total of seven ASEAN member states are now under FTA and IA with Hong Kong.

  • Total asset of the Exchange Fund was at US$535.6 billion as at Feb 29, 2020. This is US$2 billion lower than the previous month. Hong Kong dollar assets decreased by US$4.2 billion while foreign currency assets increased by US$2.1 billion.

  • The value of total retail sales in February, provisionally estimated at US$2.9 billion, fell 44% year-on-year. After netting out the effect of price changes in the same period, the volume of total retail sales decreased by 46.7% year-on-year. Retail sales plunged sharply and showed the largest year-on-year decline for a single month on record, reflecting the heavy blow to tourism and consumption-related activities affected by COVID-19.

  • The Government recorded a deficit of US$756 million in the month of February. Expenditure for the 11-month period was at US$68.6 billion and revenue at US$70.2 billion, resulting in the cumulative year-to-date surplus at US$2.4 billion after receipt of net proceeds of US$1 billion from issuance of green bonds under the Government Green Bond Programme and repayment of institutional notes of US$192 million. Fiscal reserves stood at US$152.5 billion.
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: Are Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy?

A: In accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the National People’s Congress (NPC) enacted the Basic Law, authorising the HKSAR to exercise a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial powers, including that of final adjudication, in accordance with the Basic Law. The Central People’s Government (CPG) shall be responsible for the foreign affairs and defense relating to the HKSAR and other matters authorized by the Basic Law. It also authorizes the HKSAR to conduct relevant external affairs on its own in accordance with the Basic Law. We are not required to pay taxes to the CPG. ( BL Articles 2; 12-17; 19; 22; 106 )
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