Dima Lorenz, VP China for Dwellworks, offers an update on the impact of the Coronavirus in Hong Kong from a global mobility perspective.
The Coronavirus is having a major impact on daily life and global mobility programs in Hong Kong. On 25th February, the Education Bureau announced that schools will remain closed until after the Easter break and only reopen 20th April 2020, at the earliest, for all primary and secondary schools. The Bureau confirmed that they would allow graduating students, sitting imminent international exams, to attend the necessary tutorial sessions, as long as essential preventative measures were in place. Throughout this period, children have been receiving a mixture of live virtual lessons, pre-recorded content, as well as study links, online resources and ‘home work’, covering all subject areas, thus ensuring the curriculum is fully supported, from Kindergarten through to Senior level. Last week, the government confirmed the provision of subsidies to schools and students to help alleviate expenses incurred during class suspension.
For relocating executives and their families, whilst schools remain physically closed, Admissions offices are still operating and accepting new enrolments. Some schools are offering school tours on a one-on-one basis, whilst others have gone one better on the admissions front and are offering a completely virtual admissions process, from online school tours, to applications and assessments.
Hong Kong Immigration is expected to continue working from home until 1 March (subject to further extension). Immigration has suspended filing of new work visa applications and while visa renewals are being accepted, there is no timeline as to when Immigration will revert on these applications. Immigration is processing HKID cards for first time registrants in 3 locations only.
Home-finding operation remains status quo. As it has become socially unacceptable to not wear a mask in Hong Kong, and some buildings actually require it, we recommend that prospective tenants wear a mask to view housing, simply to make other people comfortable.
We will continue to provide updates as needed to keep our clients and industry colleagues well-informed of the current situation resulting from the this serious outbreak.