COVID in Hong Kong

By Hailey Abdilla

Currently in Hong Kong, foreign domestic workers are required to live with their employers because of a longstanding government mandate. Unfortunately, this rule has wreaked havoc in China. Workers who contract COVID are turned away from hospitals and kicked out of their homes since they are also their places of work. Dozens of foreign domestic workers have been simply left on the streets after testing positive for COVID, and the numbers are growing under the crushing fifth wave. This treatment of foreign workers has caused a mass exodus as expats leave Hong Kong in fear of its “zero COVID” policies. As expats move out, many wonder how this will affect Hong Kong’s future as a hub for business and foreign diplomacy. Despite the population growth in Hong Kong that was seen in 2019, the population has been steadily decreasing throughout 2020 and 2021, with more than 94,000 people leaving the city just last month. These numbers hurt the economy as skilled workers become harder and harder to come by. Many have begun to fight for foreign workers to be based outside of Hong Kong in order to avoid the strict and sometimes harsh COVID protocols. This has even caused companies to move their headquarters out of Hong Kong—at least 84 companies already have. Both FedEx and BAFSY, a German chemical company, shut down their Hong Kong headquarters. As wealthy foreigners and expats leave the city, blue-collar workers and the middle class are left to handle the economic disarray. As many as 50,000 small businesses are at risk of shutting down, and activity has ended quickly among the fifth wave. With the future of these restrictions unknown, the economic future of Hong Kong remains unknown amid the ever-growing COVID pandemic.