COVID-19 vs CULTURE Series: Who will win? Hong Kong’s Bout with the Pandemic
By Lenar Mitchell B. Lontoc
Singer-Producer, and Music Business Management Student
As a singer-songwriter, the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't an all bad experience for me. I started to conceptualize, write, compose, record and produce music, lyrics and songs again with no timeframe in mind. It was an all-inspiring long break from physical classes. Although I really missed my classes so badly, I enjoyed staying at the comfort of my own home, and even with the company of my loving family. Since I have composed and produced a lot of songs during this time, I started managing another musical artist called Lenar Bata. I started to think long-term for which direction I would want to take my music.
It has been a fulfilling experience too, I started to reorganise my priorities in life.
As my school, MINT College, back in the Philippines offered online classes, I could actually attend them even if I'm currently in Hong Kong. This worldwide phenomenon made everyone in the world try out new things that has never been done before. We knew that anything is possible, nothing is really impossible.
When we arrived in Hong Kong in the first week of April 2020, the Carrie Lam administration handled the Quarantine orders and Social Distancing efforts very well and smoothly. It was very efficient and done with the motto "Together! We Fight the Virus!" The Hong Kong Government treated all incoming passengers, regardless of their residency here with fairness. We had to go to a Mass Testing Centre they had put up in Asia-World Expo, nearby the Hong Kong International Airport. The testing for COVID-19 in Hong Kong is one's sputum being spat on a bottle.
After all the procedures and tests, we either go home or stay in a hotel provided by the HK Government. We were given a bracelet with tracking features connected to the Phone app which the Department of Health had installed in our phones when we arrived. For my case, we were given 14-days quarantine in our home. We only ordered food deliveries online. Later, the HK Government also provided some groceries to incoming passengers to Hong Kong if it was requested. Special meals like vegetarian or religious food requirements were also noted.
The COVID-19 test results were actually finished within two (2) days or 48 hours. Even if the test results remained NEGATIVE, we still had to finish and observe the 14-day quarantine order by the Hong Kong Government. Severe penalties for not following quarantine orders (as of the Cap. 599E Compulsory Quarantine of Persons Arriving at Hong Kong from Foreign Places Regulation) could be summarized in the following:
a) A maximum fine of HK$25,000, and
b) a maximum of six (6) months imprisonment.
When arriving in Hong Kong, and one provides false information regarding travel history and other relevant information related to handling of public health emergency, you will have to face the following:
a) A maximum fine of HK$10,000, and
b) Six (6) months imprisonment.
Health officers from the Food and Health Bureau were empowered to surrender those people to the rightful authorities. Those who violated quarantine orders and social distancing rules, especially those not wearing mask in public outdoors, parks, boarding or onboard public transport carriers, entering or present in the MTR paid area, etc. will be penalized as follows as per Cap. 599I Prevention and Control of Disease:
a) A fixed penalty of HK$2,000, and
b) Conviction to a fine of HK$5,000, and
c) If failure to provide personal details or misleading information, person would be liable on conviction to a further fine of HK$10,000.
In June to December 2020, the Hong Kong Government provided assistance to its permanent residents by launching the 'Cash Payout Scheme' through self-registrations via paper forms submitted to the Hongkong Post, or people could apply through their online banking apps on their phone. Within a couple of weeks or a month, people who applied by Hongkong Post could claim it there. Whilst those who have done it through the mobile banking apps on their phone, they have received it within two weeks in their savings bank account. The Cash Payout Scheme provided HK$10,000 for permanent residents, per person aged 18 or above.
The Hong Kong Government also handed out washable face mask that could last for 90-days. One mask per person, per household. These washable masks were given on May and September, delivered by post directly to our home when one applies through the government website. They also provided disposal surgical masks for the Hong Kong citizens, through the government website. We received the disposal ones in July.
All throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong, there are instances where the Quarantine and Social Distancing measures were changed and modified, sometimes even reverted back and then again. For example, in April and early May the restaurants remained at 50% seating capacity. This later changed in the coming months from 50% capacity to only 25%. There was even a brief instance during September wherein dining in restaurants were banned. But now in October, restaurants were at 75% capacity. In September, cinemas and clubhouses started opening up, first at 50% operating capacity then later at 75%. However, shopping malls in Hong Kong remained open all throughout, with closing hours shortened at first until 5pm only.
Government and private offices were advised to have their work from home in late March, with partial workforce going back in late August. Even physical classes and all schools as advised by the Education Bureau remained suspended since early 2020, with partial physical classes being half-school days taking place in late August 2020.
The Carrie Lam administration tackled the COVID-19 pandemic with challenges but in a very strict and efficient approach. As they say, "Together! We Fight the Virus!" We fight this virus together as one human race.
About the Author
Lenar Mitchell Lontoc is a composer, producer and singer-songwriter. He is a Hong Kong-born Filipino musical artist with various interests in films, music, art, history, politics, and anything that makes you think and you would want to change in the world. He studied Political Science, and is currently taking up Music Business Management at MINT College.
He is also both an Official Artist Channel in YouTube and a verified Spotify Artist.
Official Artist YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/KuyaLènarMitchell
Spotify Artist Page: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5iEu9oWMecYTprekDecFV6?si=ORdbkhzXSuaLYfPPqPu2mQ
Instagram & Twitter: