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Police today expressed concern over a COVID-19 case in which a 31-year-old male officer preliminarily tested positive for the virus. The Police Tactical Unit officer, stationed in Kowloon West Region, had no travel history over the past 14 days.   He felt unwell today and sought medical treatment at a hospital. In the interest of public health, all officers from the same unit will not conduct duties that require interaction with the public before further assessment and recommendation by the Department of Health. All officers working in the Police Tactical Unit Kowloon West Operational Base are required to wear masks and everyone entering police stations must have their body temperature measured. All facilities in the police station and vehicles concerned will be sterilised. Police will also deploy resources flexibly to ensure emergency services are not affected. Officers are reminded to pay attention to personal hygiene and reduce social contact to minimise risks of infection, and consult a doctor and report the case if feeling unwell. Police will continue to maintain close communication with the department and proactively provide information such as the concerned officer's duty record and roster. Arrangements will also be made for close contacts to undergo quarantine at quarantine centres.
The Government will publish a regulation in the Gazette today to prohibit group gatherings of more than four people in public places. The Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation will commence at midnight on March 29 and take effect for three months. The Government said the measure aims to maintain social distancing and combat the COVID-19 epidemic. The regulation empowers the Secretary for Food & Health, for preventing, protecting against, delaying or otherwise controlling the incidence or transmission of the specified disease, to prohibit any group gathering of more than four persons in any public place during a specified period. In accordance with the regulation, the health chief will issue a notice in the Gazette today to prohibit group gatherings with more than four people in public places, which will take effect at midnight on March 29 for 14 days, until April 11.  Twelve types of group gatherings are exempted, including group gatherings for the purposes of or related to transportation, performing any governmental function, at a place of work for the purposes of work, and of persons living in the same household. Moreover, the regulation also empowers the Chief Secretary to permit any group gathering if the Chief Secretary is satisfied that the gathering is necessary for governmental operation; or because of the exceptional circumstances of the case, otherwise serves the public interest of Hong Kong. Any individual who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of the gathering; and knowingly allows the taking place of the gathering, commits an offence. Offenders are liable to a maximum penalty of a $25,000 fine and imprisonment for six months. People who participate in a prohibited group gathering may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $2,000. The Director of Health may appoint any public officer, as an authorised officer, for the purpose of implementing the regulation. The officer may demand personal details and inspect the proof of identity as well as disperse prohibited group gatherings. The Department of Health will closely monitor the situation and issue updates through the media and the Government’s COVID-19 dedicated webpage. Enquiries on COVID-19 health information may be made to the department’s hotline at 2125 1122 from 8am to midnight daily.
The Government today announced new regulations to combat the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on gatherings of more than four people in a public place. Speaking at a press conference this evening, Mrs Lam said there will be exemptions for the four-person limit regulation such as in the workplace and at weddings. This regulation will come into effect for 14 days from midnight on March 29. A second regulation will require restaurants only to serve half their capacity of customers. Each table needs to be separated by at least 1.5m and only four people can be seated at a table.  The other part of this regulation will require venues such as cinemas, fitness centres and amusement game centres to close. The second regulation will come into effect at 6pm on March 28 for 14 days. Regarding the Government’s plan to temporarily ban alcohol sales in bars and restaurants, Mrs Lam said this was proposed to enhance social distancing. “That proposal was floated by me, of course, having discussed internally within the Government as a means to enhance social distancing as a result of the large number of confirmed cases arising from customers gathering in bars, particularly in a location in Hong Kong. “I’m very pleased that upon our suggestion, there has been very extensive discussion and active debate in society on whether that particular measure will be an effective one.” She noted the consensus is that any measure to tackle the infections should not be focused on a particular sector or setting, adding that the crux of the matter is to reduce social interaction as far as possible. “So today, we are announcing, with the endorsement of the Executive Council, a piece of subsidiary legislation in order to achieve that objective. “Any gatherings of four persons or more will be prohibited unless it has been specifically exempted under that piece of regulation.”
The Government today said that 54 people have been sent to quarantine centres due to breaching quarantine orders since the implementation of the compulsory quarantine requirement for those arriving from foreign places. Strongly condemning those who breach quarantine orders, the Government emphasised that it will continue enforcement action against the breaches with full force and press ahead with prosecution for cases with sufficient evidence.     The public can make use of e-Report Room, call the report rooms of police stations or 1823 to report suspected cases of breaching quarantine orders.     People under quarantine must strictly follow quarantine requirements and stay at their dwelling places for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Leaving dwelling places without permission is a criminal offence that is subject to a maximum of six months’ imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.
The Judiciary has been active in planning and taking action to deal with the problems caused by COVID-19 infections on court operations, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said today. In a statement, Mr Ma explained that almost 18% of the annual caseload of the courts at all levels has been affected since cases were adjourned on January 29. Given the administration of justice has been adversely affected, he said that the Hong Kong Bar Association, the Law Society of Hong Kong, the Department of Justice and many other interested parties and the public are concerned over the disruption and inconvenience caused. He said: “The Judiciary has from the earliest stages been active in planning and taking action to deal with the problems caused by the effect of the virus on court operations.” Up till now, the Judiciary has adopted a conservative approach to the types of cases that have been heard since cases were adjourned, Mr Ma said, adding that a number of exceptions, mainly urgent and essential hearings, took place. “The reason for this approach was public health and safety. Court buildings are places where at any one time many people are gathered and the potential spread of infections is a very real one.” Mr Ma noted that public health and safety remain paramount considerations in determining the Judiciary’s approach to the present problems. “We have nevertheless been urgently exploring further ways to increase court services during this time without compromising the health and safety of court users, our staff and judges.” He emphasised that judges have been proactively managing cases and making determinations on paper. He added that the Judiciary is also actively considering expanding the scope of hearings by hearing submissions by telephone, video-conferencing and generally making use of technology. “I wish to assure the community that the Judiciary is doing its best to deal with the situation. “However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the present challenge faced by the community is a public health and safety one, and in considering what best course to take, we must at all times bear in mind the health and safety of the public, court users, our staff and judges. “I hope we will be able to return to normality soon but if the general adjourned period is to continue, we will do our best to have the courts operate as much as practicable and safe."
Police today expressed concern over a COVID-19 case in which a 22-year-old female police officer preliminarily tested positive for the virus. The officer, stationed at Sham Shui Po Police Station, is posted to a patrol sub-unit and had no travel history in the past 14 days. While on duty yesterday, she felt unwell and was not involved in frontline duties that required interaction with the public. She later went to a hospital for treatment and preliminarily tested positive for the virus. In the interest of public health, Police have deployed several measures. All officers working in Sham Shui Po Police Station are required to wear masks, and everyone entering the station needs to have their body temperature measured in order to ensure health safety. Police have sterilised all facilities in the Police station concerned, including the report room and vehicles.  Officers have been reminded to reduce social contact to minimise risks of infection and deploy resources flexibly to ensure emergency services of the relevant district are not affected. Police will maintain close communication with the Department of Health and provide assistance in tracing the pathology by proactively providing information such as the duty record and roster of the officer concerned. Arrangements will also be made for close contacts to undergo quarantine at quarantine centres.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam today announced the appointment of Court of Final Appeal Permanent Judge Andrew Cheung as Court of Final Appeal Chief Justice with effect from January 11, 2021.  Mrs Lam has accepted the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission's (JORC) recommendation on Mr Cheung’s appointment. Subject to the Legislative Council’s endorsement, the Chief Executive will make the appointment under Article 88 of the Basic Law. Mrs Lam congratulated Mr Cheung on the impending appointment. “Mr Justice Cheung is a highly competent judge with exceptional qualities and leadership. He is a person of high integrity and commands strong respect both within the Judiciary and from the legal profession. As Chief Judge of the High Court for over seven years, he possesses strong administrative experience in the operation of the Judiciary. “The rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. An independent Judiciary plays a pivotal and indispensable role in upholding the rule of law and in ensuring the fair administration of justice; these are well recognised strengths of Hong Kong's judicial system. “Throughout the years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has been rendering all necessary support to the Judiciary in sustaining effective judicial administration. “We have been meeting in full the resource requirements of the Judiciary, implementing the Judiciary's proposals on the remuneration and statutory retirement ages for judges and judicial officers, and taking forward the new High Court and new District Court projects." She added that the Government will continue to provide the same support to Mr Cheung and members of the Judiciary. Mrs Lam thanked Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, who will be retiring in January 2021, for his staunch commitment and relentless efforts in safeguarding the rule of law and promoting the international status of the Judiciary, particularly amongst common law jurisdictions. She also commended his sterling contribution in enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of judicial administration. “The achievements of Chief Justice Ma have left behind a world-acclaimed Judiciary that will maintain its stature in the hands of his successor. With his solid judicial experience, I am confident that Mr Justice Cheung will discharge his duties as the head of the Judiciary with distinction.”  Basic Law Article 88 provides that the Chief Executive shall appoint judges of Hong Kong SAR courts on the recommendation of an independent commission composed of local judges, people from the legal profession and eminent individuals from other sectors. The JORC consists of the incumbent Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma as Chairman, the Secretary for Justice and seven other members, including two judges, one barrister, one solicitor and three people not connected with the practice of law. Article 90 of the Basic Law states that the Chief Executive shall obtain LegCo’s endorsement on the appointment of Court of Final Appeal judges, including the Chief Justice. The Government will now proceed to seek LegCo’s endorsement of the recommended appointment. Mr Cheung said he is honoured by the Chief Executive’s acceptance of JORC’s recommendation on the appointment. He added he is fully conscious of the community’s high expectations of the Judiciary and that if appointed, he will do his utmost to ensure that the rule of law and judicial independence are maintained and that the rights and freedoms of the individual are safeguarded.
Customs officers arrested a woman suspected of applying false trade descriptions or a forged trademark in the sale of surgical masks, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. Customs earlier received information from an authorised representative of a registered trademark, alleging that their trademark and photos were being used on a bogus page of a social network platform for selling suspected infringing surgical masks. After an initial investigation, Customs found that the design, photos, colour and wordings of the bogus page highly resembled that of the trademark representative’s official page. The bogus page claimed that surgical masks could be offered for sale in its posts, which intended to mislead customers that the masks were that of the trademark's products. It also canvassed customers using the statement "surgical masks speedpost", claiming that priority would be given to particular groups. Customers were requested to make a deposit into their designated bank accounts before they would be notified about the product's delivery. Customs arrested a 25-year-old woman in Kwai Chung yesterday. The investigation is ongoing. Call 2545 6182 or email to to report suspected infringement activities.
The Government today strongly appealed to the public to strictly follow compulsory quarantine requirements and report those suspected of breaching quarantine orders. The Government said that since the compulsory quarantine requirement for persons arriving at Hong Kong from foreign places was implemented on March 19, a total of 24 people have been sent to quarantine centres for breaching quarantine orders. Following reports from the public today and detection via electronic monitoring system, Police investigated and found 10 people left their dwelling places without permission and were subsequently sent to quarantine centres. The Government thanked those who provided information that led to the seizure of seven such people yesterday. It encouraged the public to report those suspected of breaching quarantine orders via the e-Report Centre, report rooms of police stations or the "1823 Citizen's Easy Link" hotline. The Department of Health (DH) and Police will conduct follow-up investigations to collect more evidence for the Department of Justice to consider prosecution. Regarding online rumours that the public should call the DH hotline 2125 1122 to report quarantine breaches, the Government clarified that the hotline is for symptomatic people to contact the department for help and should not be used for reporting breaches. The Government emphasised that strict observance of the quarantine requirement is necessary to protect the health of those under quarantine and others. The measure is of utmost importance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community, it said, adding that leaving dwelling places without permission is a criminal offence that is subject to a maximum of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of $25,000.
In response to the latest development of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government today announced applications from foreign domestic helpers to extend their limit of stay in Hong Kong as visitors will be flexibly considered. The Government noted the special circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic might affect the arrival and departure of helpers from or to their places of origin. The Immigration Department will flexibly consider applications from those helpers to extend their stay in Hong Kong as visitors for the purpose of finding a new employer in Hong Kong if their existing contract is due to expire or is terminated on or before July 31.   Those helpers may apply to the department for an extension of stay as a visitor for a maximum period of one month in Hong Kong, if they are unable to return to their place of origin due to the pandemic there or international travel restrictions. The department will exercise discretion depending on individual case merits under the special circumstances arising from the pandemic. Helpers may apply for a further extension of limit of stay if they are unable to return to their place of origin for home leave within the extended limit of stay.   The department will, on individual case merits, exercise discretion to grant an extension to further defer the home leave for not more than six months. The Government reminds employers to arrange for their helpers to return to their place of origin for a holiday within the extended period. Call 2824 6111 or email for enquiries.