Friday, April 30, 2021

Stephen Thomson and Eric Ip on Hong Kong's Legal Response to Covid-19 ( new OUP encyclopedia book chapter)

Stephen Thomson and Eric Ip
in Jeff King and Octavio Ferraz (eds), The Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 (Oxford University Press, 2021)
Abstract: Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the HKSAR had experienced several months of civil unrest following the introduction of a bill to the Legislative Council of the HKSAR regarding extradition matters. The protests, which were at their most intense in the second half of 2019 and which included violent clashes between protestors and police officers, vandalism of public property, and the shutting down of major infrastructure in Hong Kong, sparked a series of major political and constitutional events. The unrest eventually led to the enactment of the National Security Law for the HKSAR by the PRC authorities which is arguably the most significant constitutional development in the territory since the resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong by the PRC on 1 July 1997.    
      It is against this backdrop that Covid-19 arrived in the HKSAR in January 2020. With prior experience of a similar, though globally less severe, outbreak of infectious disease, in the form of SARS in 2003, the HKSAR implemented control measures relatively early in the Covid-19 pandemic which kept reported cases at comparatively low levels by international standards.  Just over 11,000 positive cases have been officially reported of a population of approximately 7.5 million people, and officially reported daily deaths never exceeded single digits.  Although no general 'lockdown' was implemented in the manner of other countries and territories, the HKSAR's 'success' in controlling Covid-19 has nevertheless been achieved through the use of controversial means such as 'ambush' lockdowns of residential blocks, government quarantine camps, and some of the most stringent quarantine and isolation strategies seen anywhere in the world. Additionally, elections to the HKSAR's Legislative Council were postponed for at least one year in the name of public health protection.​ ... Click here to access the full encyclopedia book chapter. 

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