Hong Kong recorded a total of 50,505 departures in the first half of March in an indication a current exodus is showing no sign of abating, even as the city’s leader promised a review of tough social-distancing restrictions. The net outflow of people, which shows that more people are leaving than coming into Hong Kong, between March 1 and 15 was 43,200, according to Immigration Department’s latest statistics. There were 50,505 departures from March 1 to 15 compared with 44,825 in the same period the month before, marking a 12.6 per cent increase. The net outflow for February was 71,354 people, the highest since a fifth wave of coronavirus infections hit the city in late December. The largest number of departures so far this year was recorded on March 6 when 5,082 people left the city. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Thursday said it was time for the government to undertake a “midterm review” of its current measures, with adjustments now expected to be announced as early as Sunday. “I have a very strong feeling that people’s tolerance is fading. I have a very good [feeling] that some of our financial institutions are losing patience about the isolated status of Hong Kong,” she said. Lam hinted that the current 14-day quarantine period for new arrivals, flight bans on nine countries including Britain and the United States, and suspension of in-person classes could be eased. Hong Kong marks net outflow of 71,354 departures in record high While Lam’s comments had given hope to some residents, others said they would wait for something more substantive in light of the current exodus, with one Facebook group for those considering leaving reaching more than 4,400 members since it was created on February 22. Flights out of Hong Kong are also in short supply. Singapore Airlines and Emirates have been banned from operating routes to the city from Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok until March 30, after passengers tested positive for Covid-19. Businessman Allan Zeman told the Post on Thursday that he saw “light at the end of the tunnel” following Lam’s comments, noting the outflow of both locals and expatriates from the city. Earlier in the day, Zeman said he had a Zoom call with 16 representatives of European Union countries who he said wanted to know when travel restrictions would be eased. “That was the message I got this morning from the EU: they’re very anxious and very, kind of, upset,” he said. “They just want to have some clarity.” Zeman said even though Hong Kong had prioritised the border reopening with mainland China, “no one knows when the border with China will open” given the current outbreak there. “We need China, but we also need the international [community]. We can’t forget about the international [community] and I think they were feeling neglected,” he said. International moving company Swift Relo said inquiries for February about relocating permanently out of Hong Kong were up 50 to 60 per cent compared with the same period last year. Managing director Piya Narang said Asian countries including Singapore and Thailand were proving popular. Where to go for those fleeing Hong Kong until better times return? Among those who left this month was Polly, who asked to be referred to by her first name. The 35-year-old Briton, who has lived in Hong Kong for a decade and runs a consultancy, said she had made plans to leave for a month in April. However, when news broke last month that a mother had been separated from her baby who tested positive for Covid-19, Polly expedited their departure plans and left on March 1 for Britain with her husband and their 15-month-old son. Polly said she planned to spend two weeks in Singapore before flying back to Hong Kong in May. “Hong Kong is home and we would very much like that to continue to be the case, but it feels like it is just one disappointment after another and that is very wearing,” she said. The time in Singapore would also give the family an opportunity to consider whether it was viable to move there, she added. Among residents who have expressed frustration with the current policies is Warwick Pearmund, who shared on Facebook a letter he sent to the Chief Executive’s Office, and linked it to Lam’s Facebook account. The 51-year-old headhunter, who has lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, said he did so because he did not expect a proper response from the office and wanted his voice to be heard. The Post has reached out to the Chief Executive’s Office for comment. Waves of frustration: Hongkongers upset over Covid beach ban The letter pointed to the contradictory rules, with Pearmund asking: “You place no restrictions upon public transport, including the densely packed MTR, but a family of three have to sit at two separate tables in a restaurant despite living in the same apartment. How does this prevent the spread of the virus?” Pearmund, who wanted to visit his ill father in Britain, said it meant he was looking at weeks away from the city, due to the flight ban and limited space in quarantine hotels. He said he believed residents would follow “sensible measures” but that the current curbs were “irrational”. “It’s unsustainable for business. It is unsustainable for mental health. It is unsustainable for families and it flies in the face of everything else that is happening around the world,” he said.