The Hong Kong government’s Covid policy so far involves: using the pandemic as an excuse to ban political gatherings; banning outdoor social activities more than indoor ones; neglecting to push the elderly to get vaccinated; happily ignoring damage done to businesses and livelihoods; encouraging reliance on less-effective Mainland vaccines; imposing punitive quarantine requirements that make travel near-impossible, isolation rules that incentivize possible carriers to avoid testing, and fruitless lockdowns; and obsessively focusing on reopening the border with the Mainland as the only possible – if hopelessly distant – priority.
Even if you strip Beijing out of the equation, we are still left with a local administration that sticks to its quarter-century long tradition of refusing on principle to back down and change its policies.
Now, as other developed economies start to move on to post-pandemic life, the detection of one local transmission of the omicron variant prompts a new round of pre-vax zero-Covid social distancing and travel restrictions – riddled with incoherence.
Among the facilities to be closed: children’s playgrounds, but not schools; golf courses, but not packed MTR stations; restaurants at dinner-time, but not during lunch; pebble walking trails, but not non-pebble walking trails. And, to quote HKFP, ‘“Cruises to nowhere” will be cancelled’. Cruises to nowhere are an apt metaphor for Hong Kong: no-one can get on, no-one can get off, and we have no destination. Many flights to nowhere too, with direct air links cut with the UK, US, Canada, Australia and France.
For someone’s convenience – but not yours – each government department issues a separate statement on which facilities/events it will be suspending. Thus the Ag and Fish Dept tells you to forget visiting geo parks here. The Environmental Protection Dept says abandon hope of going to the Weee Park here. And the Leisure and Cultural Services Dept announces closure of all its pebble walking trails, kids’ tricycling lots, outdoor chess tables and gateball courts here. Travel stuff is here.
It is hard to tell exactly what the government is trying to achieve given that Covid is going to become endemic worldwide. At best, it feels as if bureaucrats and their preferred medical experts are trapped and going round in circles in a room refusing to open doors marked ‘vaccinate the elderly’ and ‘travel bubbles’ and ‘let kids play outdoors’ and ‘use common-sense’. At worst, it feels like a deliberate plan to permanently downgrade the city and leave the population in a state of despair.
When you outsource your ability to think critically, and isolate the most logical voices because they are too extreme (which is a systemic problem with China), this is what you get. It’s basically how the whole thing is going to go, eventually. People in positions of power are not here to help you, they are here to help themselves. They are also not in positions of leadership to guide the city, they are here to enact the rules and enforce them.
They are mind-numb, dullwitted and completely satisfied with it.
I say just let the virus run through the population. Well, it’s going to do that anyway. There is no way that you can curtail omicron.
In light of this week’s events, I thought it would be amusing to revisit this quote last week (December 30) from Chief Secretary John Lee…
“Even me, such a careful man, is confident and optimistic on the matter [reopening of the border], so it’s very clear now,” he said.
He described the reopening of the border between Hong Kong and the mainland as having reached the stage of “dashing through the finish line.” However, Hong Kong as a whole has to do a good job in anti-epidemic work such as wearing masks and getting vaccinated.
“Through our joint effort in keeping the SAR with zero local infections, my confidence towards reopening the border is very strong. I also hope to announce the good news to everyone as soon as possible,” Lee said.
So… yea. If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, John Lee is just as idiotic and near-sighted as everyone else associated with this administration…
The best part of this is that the sick surveyor from Tuen Mun who set off this panic was found to have eaten in restaurant at the same time as the sick mother of the former Cathay flight attendant who started this mini-outbreak shortly after the new restrictions were announced. Any chance the government backs down now that all local cases can be traced to the same Patient Zero? Has the guy been jailed for violating quarantine regulations like so many others have? Name and Shame should be the game.
Regarding the last graph: It’s ALL purposely done (what the gov’t is trying to achieve) with not an iota of common sense so that when the CCP chooses to, it will step in to magically wave away the ridiculously stupid HKCCPSAR government’s proclamations and policies and appear as a rescuing angel, imposing much more logical and lenient edicts so that the population will truly know who’s the more competent and which system is the more preferable in the improvement of their daily lives.
Fantastic post, Hemlock!
BTW, does anyone know of a transmission/cluster involving cinemas? This is one of those activities that seems like it’d be pretty safe to me, especially if all members of the audience properly wear masks throughout a screening. Yet every time there’s been a round of “social distancing” closures, they’ve been included in the mix along with venues where we KNOW that clusters have occurred (e.g., bars, dance clubs, gyms and restaurants).
One more question: what’s the point of the Leave Home Safe app when the government has to trace Moon Palace patrons using their credit card payments? It seems like the major winners from the app “exercise” has been sellers (and makers) of phones!
Incompetence or tyrany.
It’s one or the other.
The CCP were right to be frightened of accountability.
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, John Lee is just a policeman – so why expect anything else?
If I remember correctly, when the app was under development last year, they wanted to include the same automatic, Bluetooth-based check-in features that were featured in Singapore’s tracing app, greatly increasing that app’s convenience and ease-of-use, and allowing for far greater granularity of tracking.
However, this functionality required the use of Apple- and Android-specific Bluetooth functionality, which Huawei phones no longer had access to after the Trump administration sanctioned the company.
Due to having to account for these gimped — yet highly patriotic! — Huawei phones, the final app dumbed-down its functionality to the lowest common denominator, effectively excluding the Bluetooth check-in feature entirely, and instead relying upon the ridiculous QR code mess that seems straight out of a Kafka novel. As a result, the app is largely useless for its intended purpose.
It’s a devious trick to spread the China virus so much that civil servants “working” from home can be imposed again.
@Load Toad – the two are not mutually exclusive.
The ridiculous QR code mess is a study in how out of touch and outclassed the government is: The dimwitted bureaucrats blithely assumed that the populace would trust the good intentions of a repressive communist regime like the drooling four-year-old children they imagine they are* and put the app on their main phone, rather than render the whole exercise pointless by getting an air gapped burner phone with no SIM, WiFi or Bluetooth enabled, like the devious practical rogues (who trust the regime about as far as they can spit it) that Hong Kongers really are.
*The only explanation I can think of for the tone of all government TV adverts.
Hah! The Secretary for Home Affairs has been sent to Penny’s Bay. The Directors of Immigration, the Commissionner of Police and the Head of the ICAC are all wriggling around trying to avoid joining him!
Expect changes to the system rather soon. Maybe we can finally move on from this absurd “zero Covid” strategy.
eight officials had proven they had left the venue before 9.30pm, when the patient arrived, by showing …records by their private drivers.
Or taxpayer-funded drivers? Either way, yeah, well…
More officials named at the knees up, like Hermes, now where did we hear that name before……..
and “should be squeaky clean” “Head of Hong Kong’s graft-buster elected to lead global anti-corruption body”.
Cathay bosses were called in for a bollocking, we upright taxpayers expect this and more when top brass flaunt the regulations.
@Mary Melville – rest assured I’m not a HK civil servant. I’m merely a messenger of the gods. 😉
@Stay Out Dangerous
You just accused me of being a “devious practical rogue” – you charmer!