September 1 - 8, 2020
Social distancing rules further relaxed
Hong Kong’s social distancing measures will be further relaxed, as the local epidemic wave has continued to subside and the situation is stabilizing gradually. Starting Sep 11, the number of persons allowed in group gatherings in public places will be increased from two to four. The maximum number of people allowed to be seated together at one table at catering business premises will also be increased to four. More premises including amusement game centers, cinemas, and sports premises will be allowed to reopen. This follows the conditional reopening of gyms and clubhouses since Sep 4. The existing mask-wearing requirement in public places and on public transport carriers will continue to take effect.
Travel bubble talks underway
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has approached 11 countries to discuss setting up travel bubbles. Speaking at a press conference (Sep 8), Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Edward Yau said the timetable for establishing travel bubbles and relaxing travel restrictions depends on various factors. “It all depends on how ready and how comfortable both parties are with the situation,” he said. “Now, the question on our readiness is a matter of whether we can agree on the protocol.” This includes a pre-boarding COVID-19 test, which must be mutually recognized by the respective health authorities and double insurance by ensuring travelers have it upon arrival during port health checks. Further discussions are needed before rolling out any plans.
1.3 million citizens registered for COVID-19 testing program
A total of about 1.3 million people have registered for the voluntary COVID-19 testing since the Sep 1 launch of the Universal Community Testing Program in Hong Kong. Ending on Sep 11, the program aims to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in the community as early as possible for early treatment and curb the spread of the infections in the city. The HKSAR Government is reviewing the operation of various community testing centers and the public’s demand for the testing service to decide whether to further extend the program.
Government to join global virus vaccine facility
The HKSAR Government announced (Sep 4) that it has submitted the expression of interest to participate in the COVID-19 vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility as part of Hong Kong’s two-pronged strategy for vaccine procurement. Led by the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization, the facility fosters research and development as well as production of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure fair and equitable distribution of vaccines to places around the world and protect the most vulnerable populations. The facility aims to have the vaccines delivered to the participating countries and economies by end-2021. As the COVAX facility could only serve a proportion of Hong Kong’s population and the vaccines may only be delivered by end-2021, the Government will pursue additional supplies through advance purchase agreements with individual vaccine developers. 
Freedoms and civic rights upheld in Hong Kong
Chief Executive Carrie Lam reiterated that the HKSAR Government upholds the freedoms and rights enjoyed by Hong Kong people under the Basic Law and the relevant provisions in the international covenants as applied to the HKSAR. Speaking to the media (Sep 8), Mrs Lam pointed out that whether in the international covenants or the Bill of Rights Ordinance, exercising of some of the rights is not without limits. “For example, in terms of freedom of speech, it could be limited by law under certain situations, for example, in safeguarding national security, ensuring public order, for public health reasons or to protect the rights and reputation of another person, then there will be laws to limit the expressions of such speeches by individuals in Hong Kong.”
  • The value of total retail sales in July, provisionally estimated at US$3.3 billion, fell 23.1% year-on-year, due to the surge in local COVID-19 cases and the subsequent tightening of social distancing measures that further disrupted consumption activities.
  • Foreign currency reserve assets rose to US$450 billion in August, unchanged from that of July’s. Including unsettled foreign exchange contracts, the foreign currency reserve assets at the end of August amounted to US$449.9 billion, also unchanged from that of July.
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: Has there been any interference in the independence of the Judiciary?
A; No. Hong Kong’s robust and respected court system exercises judicial power independently, free from any interference. The power of final adjudication is vested in the Court of Final Appeal of the HKSAR, which may as required invite judges from other common law jurisdictions to sit on the Court of Final Appeal. The principle of trial by jury previously practiced in Hong Kong is maintained. (BL Articles 2; 19; 81; 82; 85; 86)
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