Hongkongers are largely supportive of the city’s face mask mandate, but divided on whether travel between Hong Kong and mainland China should be fully resumed, a recent survey by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) on the city’s Covid-19 policies has revealed.
The pollster unveiled its findings last Thursday, after successfully collecting opinions from 4,247 respondents between December 30 and January 3.
Sixty per cent of those interviewed said they supported the city’s outdoor mask mandate, one of the few Covid-19 restrictions that remains after the government axed most anti-epidemic measures last month. Only 19 per cent said they opposed the mandate.
Support for the mask measure spanned the political spectrum.
Among supporters of the city’s pro-democracy camp, 37 per cent were on the side of keeping the mask mandate, while 35 per cent were against it. The rule was supported by 72 per cent of respondents with other political stances.
Respondents were split on the full resumption of quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and mainland China, with 44 per cent supporting the measure and 40 per cent opposing it.
The resistance towards fully reopening the border was prominent among pro-democracy camp supporters, with 77 per cent saying they opposed the idea. But it was welcomed by 59 per cent of those with other political affiliations.
The poll also revealed that only 36 per cent of the respondents found the government’s Covid-19 policies in the past six months reasonable, while 40 per cent said the measures had been “unreasonable.”
‘We paid the price’
Speaking at a press conference held last Thursday to reveal the findings, Cheung Tung-fai, a spokesperson for the Alliance of Revitalizing Economy and Livelihood, said that a “relatively large number” of Hongkongers were worried that the resumption of cross-border travel would bring additional health risks to the city. Beijing recently axed most of its tight Covid-19 measures, which has seen infections surge.
“Based on my contact with business sectors, I think quite a few industries want travel to resume,” Cheung said, adding that the survival of tourism and other related sectors would be dependent on it.
As for the outdoor mask mandate, Cheung said as the public have been wearing masks for more than two years, “masks have become big business, even a form of culture.”
Meanwhile, another member of the alliance Yam Wai-ho said he could not see a strong correlation between Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic measures over the past year and the number of infections in the city.
But Yam said the once stringent restrictions “had cost the city’s competitiveness internationally, led to a wave of business closures across different industries and increased debts, affected people’s employment status and freedom of movement.”
“We have paid the price for all of this… but I feel like we didn’t get much in exchange,” he added.
As of Sunday, Hong Kong has logged 2.77 million Covid-19 cases and 12,342 related deaths.