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Govt suspends many services, asks staff to stay home

2020-01-28 HKT 15:01
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  • The Leisure and Cultural Services Department on Tuesday announced that its museums, stadiums and libraries will be closed until further notice. Photo: RTHK
    The Leisure and Cultural Services Department on Tuesday announced that its museums, stadiums and libraries will be closed until further notice. Photo: RTHK
A host of government services, from court hearings to postal services, are to be suspended for the time being while public sector workers are being asked to work from home, as authorities try to insulate Hong Kong from the deadly outbreak of the Wuhan virus across the border.

With millions set to be returning to work on Wednesday after the Lunar New Year break, the government is trying to keep as many people at home as possible to minimise the risk that anyone infected with the Wuhan virus can pass it on.

The majority of government workers have been told not to head into the office, but work from home instead until at least next Monday. But, those who provide emergency or essential public services will still have to come in.

It's unclear how long this arrangement will remain in place for: a brief government statement said the measure will be reviewed later.

Meanwhile, it is also urging private firms to follow its example and allow employees to work from home.

Government services, meanwhile, will be far from normal, with an array of non-essential public services from court hearings to post services to be suspended, while museums, libraries and sports stadiums will be closed until further notice.

As the day wore on, department after department issued statements setting out what services would be affected.

The Judiciary, for one, said all non-urgent court hearings at all levels will be delayed for at least the rest of the week.

And, in a scenario typically only seen during severe typhoons, even post services will be cut.

Hongkong Post said it won't be delivering or collecting mail, while counter services will also be suspended until Sunday. Only packages made via Speedpost will be delivered.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said museums, stadiums and libraries will be closed until further notice – following a previous announcement that public facilities like sports centres and beaches would be closed.

And a host of other government offices – from the Transport Department's licensing offices, to the Inland Revenue Department and the Companies Registry, will remain closed for now.

However, people with scheduled appointments at government clinics can see the doctor or dentist as scheduled, though there will be adjustments on some non-urgent services.

Financial markets will also trade as usual today although a scheduled ceremony to mark the first trading day of the new lunar year has been cancelled.


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Last updated: 2020-01-28 HKT 21:20