Not busy, apparently
Ho Kwok Wing / Gregory Charles Rivers

All masked up

Well, Hong Kong has finally abandoned the requirement to wear masks. 

You may remember that people in Hong Kong started wearing masks back in January 2020, though initially the government was absolutely not in favour of this (having made it illegal a few months ago during that thing we don't talk about anymore).

It was only in July 2020 that it was made compulsory everywhere indoors, and then within a few days it applied outdoors as well.  This was when the government also announced a total ban on eating in restaurants  for 7 days - which was swiftly abandoned. 

The rules for restaurants have changed many times over the last three years.  At one time we had the bizarre spectacle of families spread across two or three tables (because of the maximum of two per table), and tables split in two with a glass (or perspex) screen so that larger groups could be accommodated without breaking the rules.  There have been a lot of changes since then, and according to this list the maximum number of people per table was increased to 12 in October 2022, and of course the LeaveHomeSafe QR code scanning requirement ended in December.  

But those mask rules have remained in place for more than two and a half years, even after Mainland China abandoned them, with only one concession (no need to wear one when taking exercise).  

You might have expected that everyone would stop wearing masks when the restrictions ended. 

But, no, the vast majority of people are still wearing masks on public transport and in shops and shopping centres.  

Even outdoors, a lot of people are wearing them.

Probably there is a certain amount of peer pressure that encourages people to wear them rather than being the odd one out.  Maybe that will gradually change, but it seems that people are quite comfortable wearing masks in public. 

Which begs the question: was it really necessary to have laws to make them compulsory everywhere  for everybody for nearly 1,000 days?


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