Despite the end of the long mandate, many residents are keeping their masks on.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020, the residents of Hong Kong have been under an all-encompassing face mask mandate. While many countries have ended such mandates in the last year or two as COVID cases have been brought under control, Hong Kong’s mandate continued. This week, however, after 945 days, the mandate has come to an end.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced on Tuesday that face masks are officially no longer required in indoor or outdoor settings, nor would they be required in schools or on public transportation. This marks the end of one of the longest, most stringent mask mandates since the pandemic began.
However, the reaction to the end to the mandate has been somewhat divided. While Hong Kong residents are happy that masking is no longer required, many of them continue to wear their masks out of habit, safety, or preference.
“Not only some children but even adults will want to hold on to masks as a form of protection because in their mind the world is dangerous and unpredictable,” clinical psychologist Bertie Wai told NBC News.
Despite having ended one of the world’s longest mask mandates, it appears most Hong Kong residents have continued to wear them https://t.co/igBaNRBOJ1
— Bloomberg (@business) March 1, 2023
“Other than Covid, masks can prevent other diseases like the flu,” said Melanie Choi, co-founder of Hong Kong mask-maker SAVEWO. “I would want my children to wear masks for a period of time.”
Of course, there are plenty of residents who are just as happy to say goodbye to masks for good. “Today, I’ve noticed a lot of people still wearing a mask,” said 22-year-old student Ching Hou. “But those who are not are walking around lightly and seem in high spirits, which I am very happy to see because I am done with masks.”