In view of the current coronavirus epidemic, what regulations have been put in place pursuant to the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Chapter 599 of the Laws of Hong Kong)?
The regulations put in place mainly include:
Under what circumstances a person will commit an offence in respect of a prohibited group gathering?
What is a group gathering?
Group gathering generally means a group of people who gather for a common purpose. However, whether a particular gathering is a group gathering depends on the actual circumstances of the case, such as whether the gathering is organised beforehand, whether the participants are present for a common purpose, whether there is any interaction between the participants, whether the gathering only lasts for a very short period of time and whether the participants are doing the same thing. The above matters are non-exhaustive and will not be taken on its own as a ground for concluding whether there is a group gathering.
What is a "public place"?
Pursuant to regulation 2 of Cap. 599G, public place is referred to a place that members of the public or a section of the public may or are allowed access from time to time, whether by payment or otherwise. If private premises, such as food premises, bars and cinemas, permit access by the public from time to time, such private premises would fall under the definition of public places.
Under the prohibition on group gathering, will convening an annual general meeting (AGM) or extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders contravene the regulation?
Pursuant to Cap. 599G, if the business meeting:
(a) must be held within a specified period in order to comply with (i) any Ordinance, such as the Companies Ordinance (Chapter 622 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which requires the AGM to be held within a specified period; or (ii) other regulatory instrument that governs the operation of the body or its business, such as an EGM, or
(b) is a shareholders' meeting of a listed company;
such meeting would be an exempted gathering provided certain conditions are complied with (i.e. no food or drink is served and the maximum number of participants does not exceed certain percentage of the normal capacity of the premises, which depends on the number of participants having received the 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine).
Who can be exempted from or are not subject to the compulsory quarantine arrangement?
The quarantine requirement is not applicable to persons who, after having arrived in Hong Kong, do not pass through the immigration control and persons who are exempted by the Chief Secretary for Administration. Further, pursuant to sections 12 and 12A of Cap. 599C, the Secretary for Food and Health has specified the Mainland (excluding places in the Mainland which are designated as "medium-risk" and "high-risk" as set out on the list published by the Department of Health on the Return2hk Scheme thematic website) and Macao as Category 2 specified places in China to launch the Return2hk Travel Scheme with effect from November 23, 2020, and further extend to other Mainland provinces and municipalities on April 26, 2021. Under the Return2hk Scheme, Hong Kong residents may be exempted from the 14-day compulsory quarantine requirement when they return to Hong Kong if they fulfil the specified conditions, including (but not limited to) not having been to places other than Hong Kong, the Mainland (excluding places in the Mainland which are designated as "medium-risk" and "high-risk") or Macao in the past 14 days (not including the period of which the person has been undergoing compulsory quarantine in the Mainland or Macao) and having obtained an entry quota and proof of a valid negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test result.
Under section 4 of Cap. 599C, the Chief Secretary for Administration may exempt certain persons whose entry into Hong Kong from the Mainland, Macao or Taiwan satisfies the following specific criteria:
Remarks 1: School registered under the Education Ordinance (Chapter 279 of the Laws of Hong Kong).
Pursuant to section 4 of Cap. 599E, the Chief Secretary for Administration may also exempt certain persons whose entry into Hong Kong from other places satisfies the specific criteria (i), (ii), (iii) or (vi) above.
Are those who cannot meet the above specific criteria not eligible for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement, if it is necessary for them to enter or return to Hong Kong?
If the travelling to Hong Kong is necessary for purposes relating to manufacturing operations, business activities or the provision of professional services (Remarks 2) in the interest of Hong Kong's economic development, the Chief Secretary for Administration may designate those persons or category of persons for purpose of exempting from quarantine arrangement on a case-by-case basis under section 4 of Cap. 599C and 599E.
Remarks 2: For example, legal practitioners, arbitrators, mediators, accountants and auditors.
The measures introduced by the Government are implemented with a view to minimising risks of disease infection and spreading in local community by social distancing. Therefore, we have to work together to achieve this goal.
Disclaimer: The above information is for reference only. Any contents do not and should not be taken to constitute legal advice.