March 2 - 8, 2021
Vaccine priority groups expanded
Taking into account the supply of vaccines and the smooth progress of the COVID-19 vaccination program, Hong Kong is expanding the scope of priority groups to cover seven categories of people who have greater risk of exposure and infection to COVID-19. They include staff of premises that serve food and beverages, markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, couriers, and takeaway delivery. It also comprises staff of local public transport service operators, registered construction workers, and property management such as security guards; cleaning and security personnel; teachers and school staff; and employees in the tourism industry, beauty parlors and fitness centers. To date (Mar 8), a cumulative total of about 103,800 persons have received the first dose since the start of the vaccination program on Feb 26. Separately, the second batch of the Comirnaty vaccine, jointly developed by Fosun Pharma and BioNTech, arrived in Hong Kong on Mar 7. Together with the first batch of doses delivered in late February, a total of about 1.34 million doses of the Comirnaty vaccine have arrived in the city.
Social distancing measures extended
Social distancing measures currently in place in Hong Kong will remain in force for another 14 days until Mar 17 as the local COVID-19 epidemic situation remained volatile, with active silent transmission in the community. Starting Mar 4, catering business premises are required to dedicate staff for clearing used utensils and cleaning and disinfecting used tables and partitions to reduce the relevant infection risk. If this arrangement is not practicable, staff carrying out these cleaning duties must adopt hand hygiene measures before switching to perform other duties and as necessary. Bars or pubs continue to be closed. Scheduled premises including bathhouses, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke establishments, and swimming pools remain closed. Unless exempted, group gatherings of more than four people in public places are still prohibited. The requirement for wearing a mask at all times when on public transport and in public places also remains in effect.
Bountiful opportunities for Hong Kong
Hong Kong will continue to reap the benefits of its “one country, two systems” framework, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan, adding that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development presented the city with bountiful business opportunities today and for generations of Hong Kong people, and businesses, to come. Speaking at the South China Morning Post's Redefining Hong Kong Series (Mar 4), Mr Chan said he is confident the Hong Kong economy will bounce back, with growth of between 3.5% and 5.5% this year and an average annual growth of 3.3% between 2022 and 2025.
Economic index exclusion dismaying
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government expressed (Mar 4) deep disappointment and serious dismay at the Heritage Foundation’s decision to exclude Hong Kong from its 2021 Index of Economic Freedom. It said the foundation’s decision is neither warranted nor justified, adding it does not do justice to Hong Kong which topped the chart as the world’s freest economy for 25 years out of the Index’s 27-year history. “We take strong exception to the foundation’s claim that Hong Kong’s economic policies are ultimately controlled from Beijing. This is ill-conceived and simply not true,” a HKSARG spokesman said in a statement, adding that Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy over its economic and trade policies as enshrined in the Basic Law. The statement pointed out that the foundation’s decision to suddenly exclude Hong Kong from this year's assessment was politically biased and a departure from its long-established practice for the index. Hong Kong always ranked high in the areas of fiscal health, business freedom, trade freedom and financial freedom, which are the parameters used by the foundation in compiling its index. The city’s strength in those areas has not changed.
Economic legal pact signed
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng signed a memorandum of understanding with Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria to support the creation of the Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure sub-fund at a virtual signing ceremony (Mar 5). The sub-fund, established under the APEC Economic Committee, will provide funding for capacity building work to assist APEC economies to strengthen their economic and legal infrastructure. It demonstrates the HKSAR’s commitment and contribution to strengthening economic and legal infrastructure in the region, and charts the course for a stronger, closer and more longstanding partnership with APEC. This will also help enhance the city’s visibility and reputation, further consolidating its role as an ideal hub for deal-making and a leading center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the region and beyond.
Talent scheme eligibility widens
The Innovation & Technology Commission announced (Mar 2) that the eligibility for the Research Talent Hub will be extended to enlarge the pool of innovation and technology talent in Hong Kong. Holders of a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a discipline related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) awarded by a well-recognized non-local institution will be included in the scheme. The Research Talent Hub previously provided funding support for eligible companies or organizations to engage up to four graduates with a doctoral degree in STEM-related disciplines from a local university or a well-recognized non-local institution, or with a bachelor's or master's degree in a STEM-related discipline awarded by a local university to conduct research and development work. It provides maximum monthly allowances ranging from US$2,307 to US$4,102, depending on qualifications. The maximum engagement period for each research talent is 36 months.
Electoral change objective clear
In response to the National People's Congress’ deliberation at the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress on a decision to improve the electoral system of the HKSAR to implement “patriots administering Hong Kong”, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement that she and the HKSAR Government fully respect that the Central Government takes the lead to improve the electoral system, pointing out that it has faithfully exercised the Central Authorities’ overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR. She said the HKSAR Government will prepare the necessary legislative amendments to the relevant local legislation in accordance with the revised Annexes to the Basic Law for the scrutiny of the Legislative Council. Speaking at a press conference (Mar 8), Mrs Lam further explained that the improvements to the electoral system are designed to ensure that whoever is administering Hong Kong is patriotic, adding that only when this requirement has been fulfilled can Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity be ensured, and it will help safeguard the city’s constitutional order under the Basic Law and resolve the city’s deep-seated problems. Mrs Lam pointed out that Hong Kong people will continue to have a role in the future development of the city’s political structure and stressed it has to take place within the proper constitutional framework.
Hong Kong films to premiere in Chicago
Five films from emerging Hong Kong film directors will be featured at the upcoming Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC) Season 12, to be presented in both virtual and drive-in formats. Kicking off the “Made in Hong Kong” series are two films that will be streamed online. The US premiere of the documentaryKeep Rolling(Mar 17-21), directed by Lim-chung Man, offers an up-close and personal look at the trials and tribulations of acclaimed film director Ann Hui, who has devoted her entire life to her craft. Elisa’s Day(Mar 24-28), the first feature film directed by Alan Fung, will have its North American premiere at APUC. It is a winning project of the First Feature Film Initiative, funded by Hong Kong Film Development Council. The remaining three Hong Kong films can be seen at a drive-in: the Centerpiece screening and US premiere of One Second Champion (Apr 15) by Sin-hang Chiu, the North American premiere ofI Still Rememberby Lik Ho (Apr 17) and the Closing Night quirky rom-comReady O/R Knot(May 1), from first time director Anselm Chan. Reserve your tickets now!
  • The value of total retail sales in January, provisionally estimated at US$4.1 billion, fell 13.6% year-on-year. After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales decreased 14.5% year-on-year. Looking ahead, the business environment of the retail trade will still be difficult in the near term as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to pose a threat and inbound tourism remains frozen.

  • Hong Kong’s foreign currency reserves rose to US$495.9 billion in February from January‘s US$493.2 billion. This represents about seven times the currency in circulation or about 41% of Hong Kong dollar M3. Including unsettled foreign exchange contracts, the foreign currency reserve assets at the end of February increased to US$495.7 billion from January’s US$493.2 billion.
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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