HONG KONG: Hong Kong will close most of the city’s beaches, leader Carrie Lam said on Wednesday (Mar 16), after photos of maskless residents enjoying sun and surf sparked outrage in mainland China.
The rules add to Hong Kong’s already strict distancing measures, including wearing masks while hiking and a ban on gatherings of more than two.
“As we see a surge of people going to beaches, we have to take appropriate measures in order to protect our system, to reduce the public’s movements to ensure safety,” Lam told reporters.
Authorities said they will begin taping off the beaches on Thursday.
Lam’s announcement comes on the heels of anger from Chinese social media users, who have blamed the spread of COVID-19 in the mainland on Hong Kong’s sluggish epidemic response.
The city – which recorded nearly 750,000 cases in less than three months – has not gone into a full lockdown.
But tens of millions in mainland China were abruptly placed under stay at home orders this week, after the emergence of more than 3,000 daily new cases as Beijing battles to maintain its “dynamic zero” COVID strategy.
Nearby Shenzhen, with a population of 17 million, was locked down on Monday after an Omicron flare-up in factories and neighbourhoods linked to Hong Kong.
“How can they be so carefree and go to the beach while Shenzhen is under lockdown? So selfish,” one user wrote on Weibo.
“All of Guangdong province is crying for what Hong Kong has been doing,” another wrote.