On the first day of the mask mandate being lifted in Hong Kong on March 1, 2023, only a few people were seen maskless on their way out of an MTR station so far. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
The business sector has welcomed the revocation of the mandatory mask-wearing order, a move which signifies Hong Kong’s full return to normalcy as the city takes steps to attract various international events and activities, and to highlight Hong Kong as an international financial and business center and a capital for events.
“The recovery of the city’s catering industry depends on the relaxation of all social distancing measures introduced during last three years, but it is fair to say that the revocation of the mask order signifies Hong Kong is taking a good step forward,” said Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, a Legislative Council member representing the catering functional constituency.
Hong Kong Trade Development Council Chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok said Hong Kong's current priority is to make better use of its advantage in "relying on the motherland and connecting the world" to promote Hong Kong's overall recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic
“The catering industry is returning to the full recovery stage but the industry is still grappling with labor shortage. We hope that industry players can recruit adequate staff that can supply manpower for the anticipated increase in business,” Cheung told China Daily.
“All sectors of society should fully cooperate with the government of the special administrative region actively in exploring international business opportunities, and injecting greater vitality into Hong Kong's economy,” Hong Kong Trade Development Council Chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok said. “Starting next month, 500,000 air tickets will be distributed to passengers from all over the world in stages.”
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Lam, who is also a Standing Committee member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said Hong Kong's current priority is to make better use of its advantage in "relying on the motherland and connecting the world" to promote Hong Kong's overall recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After the revocation of the mandatory mask-wearing order, tourists can show happy smiling faces without restraint, directly presenting the scene of Hong Kong's full return to normalcy, and this will inject a booster into the recovery of Hong Kong's tourism industry,” Hong Kong Tourism Board Chairman Pang Yiu-kai said.
Pang pointed out that the HKTB will immediately disseminate the good news to the mainland and overseas markets, inviting tourists to come to Hong Kong to participate in various international events.
Hong Kong residents are, for the most part, pleased that they can take off their masks, and see the move as signaling the city has defeated the COVID-19 virus.
This April 7, 2020 file photo shows Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, Hong Kong's executive councilor and legislator. Cheung earlier said the city's catering industry is still on the road to full recovery. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)
Masahiro Yoshioka, a 50-year-old Japanese man who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 20 years, said the scrapping of mask-wearing order is definitely good news. “As a food store manager, I believe the measure will get more people outside,” thus boosting his business.
Ruslan, a 31-year-old Estonian who has lived in Hong Kong for 12 years, owns an online store taking global trading orders, and is also very excited to see the mask order scrapped. He said the move signals the city is back to full-on normalcy, and future logistics and transportation services will be more convenient, which will benefit his store a lot.
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Caleb Chan, 11, a sixth-grade student at a local elementary school, said he feels “super-delighted” that he will no longer need to wear a mask when taking gym classes or doing extracurricular activities.
Amanda Sheng, a mother of two children — a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old — said she will still ask her children to continue wearing masks for a while, to keep them safe, as "it will take time to see the overall pandemic situation in Hong Kong after lifting the mask order."
Residents finally take off their masks after three years of COVID-19 precautions, symbolizing a hopeful return to normalcy in Hong Kong on March 1, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
On Wednesday, the first day that the mask order revocation came into effect, the majority of passengers using high-volume public transport services such as buses and the Mass Transit Railway were still wearing masks as a precautionary.