Face off: Should Hong Kong’s Covid-19 public gathering ban be lifted?

  • Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint
  • This week, they discuss whether one of the city’s main coronavirus social distancing measures should end
Kelly Fung |

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As coronavirus cases go down in Hong Kong and restrictions loosen for public gatherings, should we still have bans? Photo: SCMP / Dickson Lee

Charlotte Fong, 18, New York University, Abu Dhabi

It’s been months since we’ve been able to gather in public with more than four people and I’m sure people have missed meeting family and friends and social interaction in general. With the number of Covid-19 cases decreasing and the ban on public gatherings having no real effect on society, I believe it’s high time to lift such nonsensical restrictions.

Since the ban only applies to public gatherings, the government has no control over how many people gather in private premises. Because of this rule, many people have been hosting parties and get-togethers in their own homes. So they are still in close contact, sharing food, and potentially spreading the virus. It would be preferable if they were allowed to gather outdoors where the ventilation is much better.

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If the Hong Kong government truly wants to suppress the spread of Covid-19 and limit social activities, they should learn from countries such as Germany and the United Arab Emirates which control the size of private gatherings as well. Neighbours snitch on each other if they see someone breaking the rules, which sounds a little like North Korea. Do we really want this kind of dystopian society?

The dining restrictions have also taken a toll on the food and beverage industry. What’s more, many restaurants simply get around the rule by seating groups of more than four people on neighbouring tables, and putting a divider between them.

This rule doesn’t actually prevent people from gathering; it just causes an unnecessary nuisance.

It is understandable that the government take responsibility for public health and wants to enforce social distancing. But, if these rules are not effective and become major inconveniences, they should be reconsidered or even scrapped instead.

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Teresa Kwok , 16, South Island School

Hongkongers have been staying at home for months. The lack of proper social interaction with friends and relatives is very frustrating.

With the decline in coronavirus cases recently, people must be hoping that the ban on public gatherings will be lifted. I don’t think that’s a good move.

Fighting Covid-19 is a long, tough battle, so we have to take precautions at all times. Although Hongkongers have started receiving their vaccines, it is still too early to ease the restrictions.

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Relaxing the number of people allowed in group gatherings in public places from four to six, or even more, for example, could open the way for a rise in coronavirus infections.

With the easing of curbs, restaurant owners may think that they would be able to make a lot of money. However, many people may not eat out because they feel it is unsafe to do so.

Besides, the key to boosting Hong Kong’s economy is to allow tourists to visit Hong Kong, including mainlanders. But cross-border travel is a long way off; easing the social distancing restrictions now isn’t going to make that much of a difference.

Let’s remember that today’s sacrifices will lead to future happiness!

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