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Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 09:35
Major HK public services halted under epidemic
By He Shusi
Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 09:35 By He Shusi

Major government departments and the judiciary in Hong Kong announced on Tuesday the suspension of non-emergency public services — including judicial, tax, sports-facilities and postal services — through at least Sunday in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus epidemic.

In the meantime, government employees are being asked to work from home through Sunday. In Macao, civil servants, who returned to work on Tuesday, will take Thursday and Friday off.

Public transportation and public hospitals will maintain normal services. The city’s stocks, futures and derivatives markets will also trade as normal on Wednesday

Public transportation and public hospitals in Hong Kong will maintain normal services. The city’s stocks, futures and derivatives markets will also trade as normal on Wednesday, the first workday after the Lunar New Year holiday in the special administrative region.

The judiciary said it will adjourn all hearings of the courts and the tribunals originally scheduled from Wednesday through Sunday. Court and tribunal registries and offices also will be closed during this period.

Urgent hearings will be dealt with in accordance with the established mechanism, the judiciary said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Inland Revenue Department also suspended all services through Sunday. During the suspension, deadlines for tax payments, lodgment of objections and holdover applications, submission of tax returns and information will be automatically extended until Monday or until further notice.

All public sports and cultural facilities run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will be closed from Wednesday. Recreational, sports and cultural programs held at these venues are canceled until further notice, the department announced Tuesday.

The Hong Kong Wetland Park and visitor and education centers of country parks and geoparks in Hong Kong will be closed, while school and public programs in these sites will also be canceled until further notice, according to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

Hongkong Post also suspended post office counter service, mail delivery service and mail collection from posting boxes. Delivery service for inbound Speedpost items will be maintained.

Other departments that have announced suspension of public services include the Education Bureau, Transport Department, Lands Department, Legal Aid Department, Registration and Electoral Office, and the Land Registry.

Also on Tuesday, the SAR government said most government employees are being told to work from home through Sunday in a bid to reduce the risk of the novel coronavirus spreading in the community. The decision does not affect employees who are responsible for emergency and necessary public service.

The Macao SAR government, on the same day, announced that its civil servants will not have to work on Thursday and Friday.


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