Hong Kong holds off on new Covid-19 curbs despite talk of Xi visit

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the territory had no plans to relax Covid-19 rules. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong won’t tighten Covid-19 curbs before the city’s July 1 handover anniversary, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, despite speculation President Xi Jinping will attend the celebrations.

“I can say with certainty that, from now on till the 30th of June – whether it is restrictions on social-distancing measures, as well as arrival requirements – there won’t be any relaxation,” Lam told a regular news briefing on Tuesday (June 7), referencing the last day of her time in office. 

“In other words, we don’t plan to tighten them. But neither will we – neither do we plan to relax them,” she added. 

Hong Kong’s Covid-19 cases have been rising since the city began rolling back social-distancing curbs, now exceeding 500 daily infections. That’s set the city’s pandemic policy adrift from the mainland, where a stringent Covid Zero strategy of eliminating cases has sent cities into lockdown over a handful of infections.

Lam said she would meet experts later on Tuesday to get their advice on what “other measures” the city could put in place in preparation for a potential “sixth wave”, but added that she doesn’t want to close schools again.

Earlier on Tuesday, the South China Morning Post reported that Lam and other top Hong Kong officials were expected to isolate for a week ahead of a “possible” visit from a Chinese state leader on July 1, citing unidentified sources. It did not specify which leader might visit.

The closed-loop system, which was still being finalised, would prevent officials from meeting “outsiders” and could require them to live apart from their families, according to the newspaper, which said Lam had been informed a month ago of the restrictions. 

Lam said on Tuesday that the city was “looking forward” to a visit from the country’s leader, but cautioned that the conditions would need to be favorable. “I cannot tell you more,” she added. 

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