The compulsory Covid-19 mask mandate – which has been in place for over two-and-a-half years – is to be extended for another 14 days again on Thursday. Meanwhile, secondary school students will no longer have to take daily rapid Covid tests starting from next Wednesday, the Education Bureau announced on Tuesday.

covid rapid test kit cassette
A Covid-19 rapid test cassette. Photo: Rob Long, via Unsplash.

The rapid test arrangement for students will continue for those at kindergartens, primary schools and special needs school until March 15, when the government will “review the arrangement.”

Since the resumption of face-to-face classes last April, students have been required to conduct daily Covid-19 tests.

Mask mandate extended

Meanwhile, the city’s rule mandating outdoor mask-wearing is set to continue, after it was enacted on July 29, 2020. Hong Kong remains one of the only places in the world still imposing the rule, with violators facing a fixed penalty of HK$5,000, or a maximum fine of HK$10,000 if their case goes to court.

Covid-19 coronavirus virus mask child
Photo: GovHK.

Some medics have called for the mandate to be axed, saying it has limited use as Covid-19 subsides. Last October, Chief Executive John Lee said compulsory outdoor mask wearing would continue “at least for the time being” unless there is a significant rise in children’s Covid vaccination rate. But, when Hong Kong followed China in scrapping most of its Covid regulations amid nationwide protests last year, the city retained the mask mandate as Lee cited the spread of the winter flu.

Earlier this month, the chief executive repeatedly claimed Hong Kong had “no restrictions whatsoever” as he sought to resuscitate the city’s ailing economy and tourism. Authorities, however, were continuing to fine people for failing to mask up.

Additional reporting: Hillary Leung.

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Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.