Hong Kong’s John Lee stresses balance in easing quarantine | Health and fitness


By ZEN SOO – Associated Press

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee said Tuesday in his first press conference since taking office that he will work to ease restrictions on travelers while balancing the risks of a coronavirus outbreak that will overwhelm the health care system.

Hong Kong and mainland China are among the few places in the world still quarantining arrivals to slow the spread of the virus two and a half years into the pandemic. Most travelers arriving in Hong Kong must undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine at certain hotels.

Lee, a former security official who was the only candidate in the election to be Hong Kong’s chief executive, took office on Friday, succeeding Carrie Lam.

Speaking at his first press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Executive Council meeting, Lee said Hong Kong was an “international city” and he was “aware” of the need to keep Hong Kong open and convenient for travelers.

“But it’s also important to address the risks at the same time to maintain a good balance,” he said. Lee said the city’s health minister is evaluating the data to determine how the length of the quarantine could be adjusted and will formulate options for Lee to consider.

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He also said Hong Kong had a “constitutional duty” to pass a new security law, on top of the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020, which has swept away most political dissent and put many democracy supporters under arrest, in hiding or in exile.

The enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, has long been controversial. When the government first tried to draft such laws in 2003, protesters took to the streets in mass demonstrations that prompted the government to shelve its plans.

The crackdown that followed the 2019 protests included reshaping Hong Kong’s legislature. If Lee passes Article 23, the legislation is likely to pass in a body now filled with pro-Beijing lawmakers.

Lee said the situation in Hong Kong and the levels of security risks will be assessed before the law is enacted. “We are very confident that we will be able to do it well,” he said.

Lee also pledged to work on housing issues in Hong Kong – the world’s most expensive property market – saying he would try to “solve short-term problems as soon as possible” and consider how to turn available land into a “shovel”. -ready locations” to increase the speed and efficiency of housing production.

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