A medical expert advising the government on its Covid strategy on Friday said the mask-wearing mandate can be removed in phases starting next month.
On an RTHK programme, Lau Yu-lung said authorities can begin by relaxing the mask requirement at places with a lower risk of infection.
“We can start with people staying outdoors where there’s no big gathering, but keep it for large-scale events like concerts with 10,000 participants. That’s two steps,” he explained.
“For indoor places, of course it has to be maintained for the time being at high-risk places like hospitals, clinics or elderly care homes,” said Lau.
He said he hopes that eventually, elderly residents at care homes and their visitors, as well as schoolchildren, will no longer have to wear a mask.
Lau said there may be fluctuations in infection numbers after the mask requirements are scrapped, but he believes there won't be a “tsunami of cases”.
From Monday, authorities will stop issuing isolation orders for people with Covid, meaning they will be able to seek treatment not only from the public healthcare system, but also private doctors.
Speaking on the same programme, Cheng Chi-man, president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, said he believes private doctors will be able to handle any increase in workload.
He noted that there are some 4,000 family doctors in Hong Kong and that currently, around 2,000 new Covid infections are confirmed each day in the city.
Cheng also said he believes more doctors will ask the government to provide them with Covid-19 medicine after isolation orders are scrapped.
“Perhaps when the isolation order policy was in place, many patients went to designated clinics and [family] doctors did not prepare this medication. But when the policy is cancelled, I believe more doctors will ask for it, because it will be more convenient for themselves and their patients,” he said.