Published: 01:51, February 8, 2020 | Updated: 08:10, June 6, 2023
Government to prosecute those who violate quarantine order
By Chen Zimo and Kathy Zhang

The Hong Kong government will press charges against those who deliberately violated the quarantine order by leaving their quarantine sites, Deputy Secretary for Food and Health (Food) Daniel Cheng Chung-wai said.

So far, no one has been prosecuted. Of the 1,193 people under home quarantine since Saturday, nine failed to respond when the Hong Kong police checked their addresses or called their home phones, Cheng said.

Cheng added that seven of the nine were located. Most said they had not heard a knock at the door or their phone ring while asleep, and two others said they had gone out to buy food and other supplies.

The seven were given warnings by law enforcement officials. If they do not respond to a police check the second time, they will be required to wear tracking wristbands. A third violation would result in their being sent to one of the government quarantine camps, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said.

The government has set the penalty for breaching a 14-day mandatory quarantine requirement at up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$25,000 ($3,200), as it fleshed out its new border control measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the government said that starting from Saturday, all arrivals from the Chinese mainland, including Hong Kong residents and foreigners, will be required to undergo two weeks of isolation.

The quarantine arrangement would not apply to people working to supply goods to Hong Kong, including truck drivers, crew members manning ships and cargoes, and government staff

Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, 

chief secretary for administration

The quarantine requirement will also apply to people who have been to the mainland in the past 14 days, even though they didn’t enter Hong Kong from the mainland, Chan told a news conference on Friday. 

Local residents showing no symptoms will be quarantined at home, Chan said. Non-locals without a place to stay in the special administrative region will be isolated at designated premises provided by the government; others can be quarantined at places of their choice, such as a hotel.

They are required to wear a mask at all times during their isolation, so the day-to-day movement of their family members or flatmates will not be affected.

They will also be required to provide health information, including their symptoms, if any, to health authorities, Chan said, adding that the Department of Health will monitor whether quarantined people comply with the policy by making spot checks.

Also at the conference, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the quarantine arrangement would not apply to people working to supply goods to Hong Kong, including truck drivers, crew members manning ships and cargoes, and government staff.

He called on people quarantined in Hong Kong to stay at home or hotels, to cooperate and fulfill their social responsibilities.

Earlier, the government imposed a 14-day mandatory home isolation to all residents who returned to Hong Kong from Hubei province, placing them under surveillance with smart wristbands.

Deputy secretary for food and health told Friday’s conference that quarantined people will no longer be required to wear wristbands starting from Saturday.

He explained that the risk of transmission by quarantined people who came from the mainland other than Hubei is low, as they have no symptoms and no close contact with confirmed patients.

The government has provided assistance to those under quarantine, including help with childcare and other necessities.

The Home Affairs Department has set up 37 hotlines for people quarantined at home or hotels.