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Sunshine brings us brighter news

Hong Kong, 6 May 2020: Summer is coming and, at least in Hong Kong, it would appear the coronavirus may be going. While always stressing the need for caution and acknowledging the immense disruption Covid-19 continues to cause around the world, it does appear our city has turned the corner in this pandemic fight.

Hong Kong recorded zero new infections yesterday, the 10th time in the past 16 days there have been no new cases. During this time, there have been no locally transmitted infections, just a trickle of imported cases. The number of confirmed cases stands at 1,040 – around .014% of the population – with just four fatalities.

Last Sunday was Hong Kong’s hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching 34 degrees in parts of the New Territories, and people flocked to beaches, parks and hiking trails. The feel-good factor has since been amplified by our government announcing an easing of social distancing rules. Most public entertainment venues, closed since 28 March, will be allowed to reopen on Friday and the limit on public gatherings will be increased from four people to eight. As well, students will begin returning to school from 27 May. Travel, of course, remains out of bounds for most people, understandably so given the global situation.

More good news for Hong Kong citizens has come from the government’s Innovation and Technology Bureau, which is giving all residents a free washable mask which can be reused many times. Online registration for the product, known as the CuMask+, opened this morning and those who apply can expect their mask to be delivered via the post within two weeks. The masks have been designed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel.

The legal profession also has reason to cheer with our courts having reopened on Monday. All civil and criminal hearings, including trials, have generally resumed, although jury trials will only start after May. On this issue, however, I do think we could be making greater use of the video technology which was successfully implemented for some hearings during the general closure. As an example, I’ve spent this week in a High Court hearing, closely grouped with some dozen other legal representatives and court officials, with no social distancing measures, although of course we are all wearing masks. Yet it is a case which could easily be heard remotely. I acknowledge some hearings are proceeding via video link, I just feel there could be more.

As previously mentioned, our government is implementing some US$18 billion worth of relief measures for individuals and businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. It is a huge programme of wage subsidies, grants, allowances, concessions and other financial initiatives, one which Boase Cohen & Collins is monitoring closely in order to keep our clients fully briefed as to how they may benefit.

In signing off, I will offer my usual recommendation to read Dr David Owens’ latest coronavirus update for some welcome perspective and, once again, I will also steer you towards Ally Law’s COVIDAlly microsite for useful business-related advice.

Stay safe and well, everybody!

Colin Cohen
Senior Partner
Boase Cohen & Collins