Hong Kong has retired its Covid-19 app amid the relaxation of pandemic measures, with the city’s technology chief saying it had “completed its historical mission.”

A man scans a QR code using the LeaveHomeSafe app. File photo: GovHK.

LeaveHomeSafe, introduced in November 2020 as a contact tracing tool, was discontinued on Sunday.

“[F]ollowing the relaxation of different anti-epidemic measures, the resumption of normal travel of Hong Kong and the Mainland in a progressive, orderly and comprehensive manner,  as well as the resumption of normalcy of public’s daily lives,  the ‘LeaveHomeSafe’ system has ceased operation and the app will not be further updated,” a government press release read.

Authorities added that all visit records in the system had been deleted. While the app will no longer update, it can still be used for functions such as registering for a PCR test at government centres.

LeaveHomeSafe QR codes outside the M+ Museum. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

For over two years, LeaveHomeSafe was synonymous with Hong Kong’s strict Covid-19 measures. While its use was initially voluntary, in December 2021 the government made it mandatory for entering restaurants and other businesses, with the public required to scan a QR code using the app.

Its contact tracing function, whereby close contacts were alerted that they had been in the same venue as a Covid-positive person, was dropped in February as the fifth wave overwhelmed the system. Authorities acknowledged that they were facing a “bottleneck” in processing Covid-19 test results.

The app was also used to store Covid-19 jab records. The city stopped requiring proof of vaccination late last month.

Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry Sun Dong posted a tribute to the now-defunct app on Saturday.

“Over the past 25 months, mobile app LeaveHomeSafe accompanied Hongkongers through the unforgettable fight against Covid-19,” Sun said. “LeaveHomeSafe… has completed its historical mission.”

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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.