COVID-19: Hong Kong Sinks Into Recession, Tightens Restrictions

(Hong Kong) The Hong Kong economy slipped into recession in the second quarter, with its GDP estimated to contract 9% over one year, authorities said on Wednesday, as drastic new rules for social distancing went into effect.

France Media Agency

The former British colony, very densely populated, was one of the first areas affected by the epidemic after its appearance in China and initially recorded remarkable results against the coronavirus.

But while the chains of local contamination had been almost cut in June, the infections started to rise again a few weeks ago, which led the authorities to order new measures in the city, where the port mask is now mandatory in public.

Illustration of the extent of the economic crisis caused by the epidemic, the government published on Wednesday preliminary estimates which show a decline of 9% of the territory's GDP in the second quarter, compared to the second quarter 2019.

The semi-autonomous region had already experienced a record contraction of 9.1% in the first quarter.

Hit by months of political crisis and the fallout from the Sino-US trade war, Hong Kong's GDP also fell in the third and fourth quarters 2019.

The government in particular reported a fall of 14, 5% of consumption in the second quarter, i.e. the strongest ever recorded, and this “because of the threat of COVID – 18 and the imperatives of social distancing”.

A situation that should not improve immediately, since as of Wednesday, no customers can eat in Hong Kong restaurants, which are only allowed for take-out.

From Wednesday, the 7.5 million inhabitants of this very densely populated city are required to wear a mask in public.

Gatherings of more than two people – with the exception of families – are no longer allowed. And fines of 5000 Hong Kong dollars (100 euros) are foreseen in the event of infringement.

For eight days, the city has recorded more than 100 new contaminations per tranche of 19 hours.

More than 3000 COVID cases – 18 have been identified since start of the pandemic, a majority of which since the appearance this month of a new wave of contaminations.

“We are on the verge of a large-scale epidemic which could lead to the collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially among the elderly”, declared the Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam in a press release.

Wearing a mask – already widely used for months among the population – was already compulsory in public transport and in closed public places.

And the restaurants could only accommodate customers in their rooms until 14 h.

The government has announced the next construction, with the help of China, of a 550 field hospital near the international airport .