Hong Kong civil servants to resume work as pandemic stabilizes

Hong Kong civil servants to resume work as pandemic stabilizes

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday that all civil servants will gradually resume normal work from the office starting next week as the coronavirus pandemic has stabilized in the territory.

Hong Kong has reported a single-digit number of daily coronavirus cases since April 12, with zero cases recorded on some days.

“When the pandemic was serious, we had to suppress. When it stabilizes, we have to lift some of the measures” in place to contain the spread of the virus, Lam said at a press briefing.

“After careful consideration, we have decided to resume normal government services in two phases from May 4,” the chief executive said.

(Chief Executive Carrie Lam is seen during a press conference in inside the Central Government Office on April 22, 2020 in Hong Kong.)[NurPhoto/Getty/Kyodo]  

She said most civil servants will resume normal working hours, and that most government counter services will also resume normal operation.

But large public gatherings remain prohibited.

Work restrictions on Hong Kong civil servants have been in place since January when the coronavirus outbreak was just emerging. About 4,800, or 3 percent of the civil workforce, have been working from home, while about 20 percent have been working shifts or coming to the office every other day.

Public demonstrations, such as the one held Sunday at a shopping mall where hundreds of protesters were dispersed by police on the grounds of the public gathering ban, remain on a list of social gathering restrictions that are effective until at least May 7.

Lam said arrangements after May 7 will be announced once decided.

Border control measures aiming at arrivals from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan will be extended to June 7, with exemptions given to cross-border students and Chinese visitors on business purposes.

“The epidemic situations in mainland China are more or less under control,” Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan said while adding that the health authorities are closely monitoring the epidemic situation on the mainland.

Hong Kong has reported no new coronavirus infections since Sunday, with the total tally staying at 1,037, with four deaths and 786 discharged from hospitals.