February 2 - 8, 2021
Testing and quarantine arrangements for crew members tightened
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government will tighten the testing and isolation arrangements for air and sea crew members and other exempted people starting Feb 20. All air crew members will be subject to the “test-and-hold” arrangement to undergo testing and wait for the result at Hong Kong International Airport or a designated location. They must self-isolate at the airport hotel arranged by airlines until their next duty flight after undergoing testing. Locally based crew may self-isolate at a designated quarantine hotel for 14 days before entering the community. They are also subject to further testing as well as seven-day medical surveillance thereafter. Freight crew who are subject to closed-loop management in segregation from the local community during their layover in Anchorage in the US, will be exempted from the above arrangements but . They will still be subject to 21-day medical surveillance. Crew of goods vessels must possess a negative SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test result from an accredited laboratory within 72 hours prior to the vessel’s scheduled time of arrival in Hong Kong. Understanding the impact on airlines’ and shipping companies’ operations, and that on the crew members to be brought about by the new arrangements, the Government appeals to the industry’s understanding of the need to tighten the relevant exemption conditions.
Striving for zero virus cases
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the HKSAR Government’s goal of setting up restricted areas for mandatory COVID-19 testing is to achieve zero infections in the community. Responding to media inquiries ahead of the Executive Council meeting (Feb 2), Mrs Lam explained that many preventive measures have been implemented to stop further transmission of the virus in the city, adding that restricted areas for mandatory testing have been set up based on a number of factors and such operations will persist because they are effective. The Chief Executive also said one of the COVID-19 vaccines procured by the Government is expected to arrive in Hong Kong by the end of the month. Meanwhile, current social distancing measures will be extended through Feb 17. Specified outdoor sports premise for activities involving little physical contacts, such as athletic tracks, tennis courts, cycling parks, sea activities and climbing walls, will reopen starting Feb 4, subject to relevant requirements and restrictions.
Smooth start for “LeaveHomeSafe” pilot program
The pilot program under which the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app is used at government buildings or offices ran smoothly on its first day (Feb 4). The usage of the mobile app at the entrances of government buildings or offices will better assist the Centre for Health Protection in epidemiological investigations and further protect the health and safety of government employees and the public. The app’s usage will be progressively extended to more government buildings and offices. The HKSAR Government hopes to further encourage its employees and the public to establish a habit of recording their whereabouts during the fight against the epidemic.
Rational choice of dispute resolution and arbitration
Hong Kong awards in arbitration and dispute resolution services are enforceable in the Mainland as well as all New York Convention States, said Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng (Feb 4), highlighting Hong Kong’s unique advantages in this sector. These include the city’s adoption of the latest UNCITRAL Model Law and makes no distinction between domestic and international arbitration and ensuring that international standards are met. Hong Kong explicitly permits the choice of lawyers without any restriction, irrespective of the applicable law to be argued before the tribunal. Parties are also free to appoint arbitrators of their own choice, with no restriction on nationality. Awards made in Hong Kong have generally been upheld by local courts and enforced in other jurisdictions. Arbitrators in Hong Kong have all the power they need under the arbitration laws of Hong Kong to manage and adjudicate the disputes before them. 
New waste blueprint unveiled
The HKSAR Government released (Feb 8) the Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035, which outlines the strategies, goals and measures to tackle the challenge of waste management up to 2035. Secretary for the Environment KS Wong said the Government will assume a more proactive role, such as further promoting various policies and legislation, in particular the municipal solid waste charging initiative that would serve at the forefront of effectively promoting waste reduction and recycling. It will reinforce support for the recycling sector to enhance the effectiveness of transforming waste into resources and establish a circular economy. It will also expand the local waste-to-resources or energy capacities by setting up the required infrastructure in a timely manner to handle waste in a more sustainable and low-carbon manner in order to achieve the long-term goal of zero landfill.
New Smart ID replacement timetable set
The application period for residents born in 1962 or 1963 to apply for a new smart Hong Kong identity card has been extended to Feb 20. The call-up program for people born in 1970 to 1972 previously announced remains unchanged. The application period will last until April 30. People born in 1973 to 1976 should apply for a new smart identity card from Feb 22 to Jul 9, while those born between 2005 and 2007 and from 2012 to 2018 have to apply for their new identity cards between May 3 and Sep 18.
  • December’s total retail sales, provisionally estimated at US$4 billion, fell 13.2% year-on-year. After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales decreased 14% year-on-year. For 2020 as a whole, the value of total retail sales was provisionally estimated at US$41.8 billion, down 24.3% in value and 25.5% in volume compared with 2019. Looking ahead, the business environment of the retail trade will remain challenging in the near term amid frozen inbound tourism and the ongoing local epidemic.

  • Hong Kong’s foreign currency reserve assets rose to US$493.5 billion in January from December’s US$491.8 billion, representing over six times the currency in circulation or about 48% of Hong Kong dollar M3. There were no unsettled foreign exchange contracts in January.
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: 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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