Around three-quarters of Hongkongers do not think the city’s Covid-19 situation constitutes a “public health emergency.”

Democratic Party
The Democratic Party announces results of its survey on the city’s Covid-19 rules at a press conference on Nov. 9, 2022. Photo: The Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party released results on Wednesday of its questionnaire about public attitudes towards Covid-19 and the government’s related measures.

A total of 75.6 per cent of people disagreed that Hong Kong was experiencing a “public health emergency” per the government’s definition, which refers to a situation with a “high probability of causing a large number of deaths” or a “large number of serious disabilities.”

Around two percent and 11.4 per cent of respondents indicated “strongly agree” and “agree,” respectively.

The party surveyed 853 people on the phone via random sampling between October 24 and last Saturday, a press release read.

Respondents were also asked how they felt about the government’s anti-epidemic rules, including the Vaccine Pass scheme, the group gathering ban, and the mandatory mask rule.

The Vaccine Pass scheme, which requires people to be vaccinated to enter restaurants and other businesses, proved the least popular with over 82 per cent believing it was ineffective at stopping the spread of Covid-19. Just 0.7 per cent selected “strongly agree.”

The Democratic Party said the government introduced the Vaccine Pass to “force” people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

“But now, most people have already gotten the vaccine, and those who have not have their own [medical] reasons,” the party wrote in a statement, adding the scheme had “completed its historical mission.”

Covid-19 vaccine children
Children at a Covid-19 vaccination centre. Photo: GovHK.

Meanwhile, the questions about the group gathering ban and the mask rule yielded more division. A total of 66 per cent of respondents “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” that the ban on group gatherings – currently capped at 12 people – could help control the emidemic.

Around 65 per cent said they agreed with the city’s mask-wearing rules. Hong Kong currently requires face coverings both indoors and outdoors.

A heavy price

Hong Kong maintains many stringent Covid-19 rules that much of the world have long abandoned, with the past three years marked by disruptions to in-person schooling, cumbersome rules for inbound travellers and on-again, off-again business closures.

The unpopular hotel quarantine requirement for arrivals was scrapped in September following criticism from business groups and lawmakers.

finance economy property market covid covid-19
A vacant shopfront in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The population believed the city had made significant sacrifices under such rules, the Democratic Party’s survey found.

Asked whether they agreed Hong Kong was “paying too much social and economic cost to keep the current public health measures in place,” 76 per cent answered “strongly agree” or “agree.”

The city’s economy contracted for a third consecutive quarter in the period ending in September, government figures released at the end of last month showed. Authorities, however, blamed the “worsened external environment” and rising interest rates globally.

covid-19 social distancing chater garden
A man rests in Chater Garden in Central. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

Lo Kin-hei, the chairperson of the Democratic Party, said Hongkongers had their doubts about whether the city should continue enforcing its strict anti-epidemic rules.

“Hong Kong’s relaxation of Covid rules is slower than its main Asian competitors… Hong Kong’s status as an international finance centre continues to be eroded, and the aviation, logistics and tourism industries are seeing unprecedented blows,” the statement read.

The party called on the government to respond to Hong Kong people’s wishes, for example by scrapping the “0+3” requirement that bars new arrivals from visiting restaurants and other businesses in their first three days in the city.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.