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22 Feb 2021

COVID-19 in Hong Kong: A Timeline

Chatteris’ own Emily Brazier talks us through Hong Kong’s experience of COVID-19.

UPDATED: 15/07/2021

Since January 2020, Hong Kong has responded to COVID-19 with a range of interventions from the government and a high level of social responsibility from the region’s 7.5 million residents. Here’s how case numbers 📈, vaccinations 💪, social distancing policies 😷, school arrangements 📚 and travel restrictions ✈️ have varied throughout the period. This blog post will be updated regularly as the situation in Hong Kong evolves.

October 2021

📈 Throughout the month, there are no locally transmitted cases.

💪 By the end of October, around 65% of the population are fully vaccinated (up to date data).

😷 Social distancing measures are largely unaltered.

📚 Primary schools continue to operate on half days, while some secondary schools have resumed full days. Many Chatteris partner schools continue to run online extra curricular activities for students in the afternoon.

✈️ Designated quarantine hotels are announced for after Christmas and are quickly booked up. Quarantine for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers remains up to 21 days.

September 2021

📈 The region’s Chief Executive reviews Hong Kong’s outlook and efforts as COVID rates remain at 0.

💪 The need for a third ‘booster’ vaccination is considered but not introduced at this point.

😷 Social distancing measures remain in place, with slight relaxation of the limitations on fully-vaccinated gyms and fitness classes where mask wearing is not mandatory.

📚 The school term begins with half days of classes. During September, vaccination requirements for students are updated, allowing some secondary schools to open for full days of teaching and extra-curricular activities.

✈️ Vaccination records from India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand and Korea begin to be accepted for travel. Restrictions on travel to and from Mainland China begin to ease but will not be fully lifted until at least after the Winter Olympics.

August 2021

📈 There are close to 0 locally transmitted cases during August, but several imported cases are identified upon arrival and the patients are sent to hospital for isolation.

💪 New schemes are implemented to encourage vaccinations amongst secondary school students.

😷 Social distancing measures remain in place, with limitations on restaurants and bars dependent on the vaccination status of staff and customers. Mask wearing is mandatory in in all public places (including gyms) and group gatherings of more than 4 people are still prohibited. A few preliminary positive tests prompt restricted area compulsory testing, all yielding no positive tests.

📚 Over the holidays, Chatteris Tutors are able to run in-person, half-day summer programmes for students.

✈️ New border controls are introduced, categorising countries as high, medium and low risk. Quarantine stays range from 7 to 21 days based on the country’s risk and the passenger’s vaccination status. As the Delta variant emerges later in August, the minimum stay is capped at 14 days for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers. Airport serology testing to reduce quarantine is introduced but swiftly shelved.

July 2021

📈 Locally transmitted cases remain almost 0 during July.

💪 By mid-July, over 4.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered.

😷 Current social distancing restrictions remain in place.

📚 The school term ends mid-way through July.

✈️ Quarantine restrictions remain the same for most countries. Travellers who have been in the UK within 21 days remain prohibited from entering Hong Kong.

June 2021

📈 For most of June, Hong Kong has no locally transmitted cases and low numbers of imported cases.

💪 At the end of June, the total doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered is nearly 4 million. The government launches a variety of vaccination incentive schemes, including raffles for staycations, cars and cash as well as $5,000 consumption vouchers for all HK residents. Secondary school students become eligible for the vaccination as the age limit is reduced to 12 years old.

😷 Social distancing restrictions are eased, dependent on the vaccination status of premises’ staff and customers as well as the use of the LeaveHomeSafe app. Larger table sizes are permitted and bars are allowed to open until 4 am.

📚 Schools continue to operate half-days of lessons, with all students on campus.

✈️ The quarantine period for vaccinated travellers from some countries is reduced, however, flights from the UK to HK are halted due to the Delta variant.

May 2021

📈 Case numbers remain below 10 per day throughout May.

💪 By mid-May, nearly 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.

😷 Current social distancing restrictions remain in place, with dine-in services open until up to 2 am dependent on the vaccination status of staff and customers.

📚 From May 24, schools may resume lessons at full capacity for half days.

✈️ Under the vaccine bubble concept, fully vaccinated inbound passengers will have their quarantine time reduced to between 14 and 7 days, depending on their country of origin. Flights to Hong Kong from the UK and Ireland resume.

April 2021

📈 By the end of April case numbers have dropped below 10.

💪 Many Chatteris tutors receive their second vaccination, from 21 days after their first dose. In total, nearly 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered to the Hong Kong public.

😷 Social distancing measured are relaxed, with dine-in services becoming permitted until midnight if all staff at a premise have received one dose of the vaccination. Once all staff have received both doses, dine-in services may extend until 2am. Use of the LeaveHomeSafe tracking app is more widely enforced. Beaches and leisure services will also reopen.

📚 Existing restrictions on schools remain in place, with groups of students returning for half days of lessons.

✈️ May 26th is announced as the new date for the Singapore travel bubble. Flights are suspended from India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.

March 2021

📈 A cluster emerges around a gym, pushing up case numbers during March.

💪 Chatteris Tutors become eligible for vaccinations as the priority groups are extended to include school staff.

😷 Current social distancing measures are maintained, but tighter policies are implemented in gyms.

📚 Existing restrictions on schools remain, with most campuses hosting in-person lessons for up to one third of students at a time. Schools may also choose to have all students return for half days of lessons if all teachers take regular COVID-19 tests.

✈️ Travel restrictions remain the same.

February 2021

📈 Throughout February, cases fall to 20 to 30 per day.

💪 The COVID-19 Vaccination Programme is launched. Priority groups can choose either the CoronaVac (Sinovac) or Comirnaty (BioNTech) vaccine.

😷 Policy is introduced whereby any building with a positive COVID-19 case will be issued a  compulsory testing notice. The restricted area approach also continues to be implemented in other high risk areas. Dine-in services are permitted until 10pm. Gyms and beauty salons can reopen.

📚 In person teaching continues to gradually increase. After the Chinese New Year holiday, students may return to school for a half-day of lessons, with a maximum of one third of students on campus at a time. 

✈️ Existing travel restrictions remain in place, with mandatory testing, quarantine and a ban on inbound UK flights.

January 2021

📈 During January, daily cases of COVID-19 are consistently high, peaking over 100

😷 Mandatory testing orders are frequently issued for areas or residential blocks where cases are found. The government also introduces a new ‘restricted area’ approach whereby high risk areas are closed off for around 12 to 24 hours and residents must test negative for COVID-19 before they are permitted to leave. 

📚 Term begins mostly online, with some students permitted to attend face-to-face lessons in small groups. 

✈️ Mandatory testing, 21 day quarantine and a ban on flights from the UK remain. 

December 2020

📈 Case numbers remain high at the start of the month, exceeding 100 per day.

😷 Social distancing policy is tightened, with public gatherings limited to 2 people, dine-in services prohibited after 6pm, and the closure of gyms, beauty salons, amusement parks, pools and more. Members of the public are encouraged to work from home. Free COVID-19 tests become available from vending machines located in MTR stations and other areas.

📚 All primary and secondary schools are shut, with the end of term occurring online.✈️ Quarantine for incoming travellers is increased to 21 days and flights from the UK are banned.

November 2020

November 2020

📈 Towards the end of November a cluster emerges, starting Hong Kong’s 4th wave. 

😷 Beaches reopen but by the end of the month bars and nightclubs must close. Those who have visited a number of specified places connected to the new outbreak must undergo mandatory testing. The government launches a contact tracing app and begins giving a 5,000 HKD grant to those infected with COVID-19.

📚 Primary schools and kindergartens close, shifting lessons back online. ✈️ Hong Kong’s first proposed travel bubble (with Singapore) is postponed before it is launched.

September 2020

📈 At the start of September, cases have dropped below 20 per day.

😷 Social distancing restrictions are further eased – gyms, massage parlours, swimming pools, theme parks reopen. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs may host guests until 12pm. Masks are also no longer compulsory for outdoor exercise. The Universal Community Testing Programme is launched, through which all residents are eligible for one free, voluntary COVID-19 test.

📚 Face-to-face classes resume in phases towards the end of the month, after term starts online. Staff and students at a school are tested for COVID-19 after a student tests positive.

✈️ Travel restrictions remain in place.

August 2020

📈 By the end of August, daily case numbers have been below 50 for 11 consecutive days. 

😷 The government recommends avoiding group family gatherings and distributes disposable masks to residential addresses. Restrictions are eased as beauty salons, cinemas and outdoor sports venues reopen, while restaurants are permitted to offer dine-in services until 9pm.

📚 School facilities remain shut for the summer holidays.

✈️ Travel restrictions are maintained, with mandatory testing and quarantine for arrivals.

July 2020

📈 Hong Kong’s third wave begins in July.

😷 Leisure and cultural facilities are shut. Dine-in services are prohibited at restaurants and bars after 6pm. Mask wearing in public places is made mandatory, indoors and outdoors, including during exercise. A work from home recommendation is issued and members of the public are encouraged to stay home. Public gatherings are limited to 2 people. A number of markets linked to cases are closed and disinfected

📚 The government announces that summer holidays will finish early, giving schools a few days to finish off end-of-year exams before they close.

✈️ Travellers from certain high risk countries must provide a negative test and proof of a hotel reservation before entering HK. 

June 2020

📈 The prevalence of COVID-19 remains low for most of June, with no new infections being detected on a number of days.

😷 Pools, beaches, libraries and museums reopen. A new policy is introduced whereby residents from a housing estate experiencing a cluster are evacuated and quarantined. The government launches a 10,000 HKD payment scheme for permanent residents. 

📚 Primary schools resume in-person teaching.

✈️ Inbound travellers must still take a test and undergo 14 days of quarantine in a hotel or home.

May 2020

📈 At the start of May, there are no locally transmitted cases and imported cases remain infrequent

😷 Restrictions are eased. Beauty salons, gyms, nightclubs and bars reopen. Social gatherings of up to 8 people are permitted and restrictions on religious gatherings are lifted. The government distributes free, reusable masks to all Hong Kong residents.

📚 Secondary schools resume face-to-face lessons.

✈️ Compulsory testing and 14-day quarantine for arrivals remains in place.

April 2020

📈 Case numbers fall throughout the month of April.

😷 Beauty parlours, entertainment venues, bars and pubs are closed.

📚 Schools remain shut, all lessons are held online.

✈️ All travellers are tested for COVID-19 on arrival in Hong Kong.

March 2020

📈 On 20 March, daily case numbers peak at 48

😷 Indoor and outdoor gatherings of more than 4 people are prohibited and restaurants are limited to operating at half capacity

📚 Schools continue to run lessons online.

✈️ Hong Kong’s border is shut to non-residents. Returning residents must quarantine for 14 days at either a hotel or at home, wearing a tracking device for the duration of the period. Travellers from the US, the UK and continental Europe are also tested on arrival.

February 2020

📈 By the end of February, a total of 94 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong.

😷 Restrictions remain in place on certain public spaces.

📚 Schools begin to transition to online learning. 

✈️ Travellers from high risk countries are monitored on arrival in Hong Kong.

January 2020

📈 The first case of COVID-19 is recorded in Hong Kong on 22 January 2020.

😷 Before government policy is introduced to limit the spread of the virus, mask wearing becomes prevalent across the region. By the end of January, the government has issued its first work from home recommendation and museums, libraries and sports centres have shut.

📚 On 29th January, schools are shut across Hong Kong. 

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