HONG KONG: The Hong Kong government made its check-in app mandatory for most adults in bars and restaurants on Thursday (Dec 9), the latest expansion of coronavirus tracing tech at a time of heightened privacy concerns in the city.
The international finance hub has kept infections at bay thanks to mostly closed borders, some of the world’s strictest quarantine rules and ongoing social distancing rules.
No local infections have been recorded in months, but the city is further ramping up virus measures, aligning with China’s zero-COVID-19 strategy as it seeks quarantine-free travel with the mainland.
From Thursday, all adults under 65 must use the city government’s COVID-19 app, scanning QR codes to log their presence at 18 types of premises – including eateries, cinemas, gyms and karaoke venues.
The logs can be used to trace infections if there is an outbreak.
Children and the elderly were exempted at the last minute after a public backlash against the proposal to make the app mandatory for all.
The Leave Home Safe app has been in use since November 2020, but until Thursday, it was not mandatory and people could still fill out paper slips when entering venues.
Chum Tak-shing, a local district councillor in Sham Shui Po, said many older residents who are not exempted in his working-class district do not own, and cannot afford, a phone to run the app.
“(They) are now having to spend nearly HK$1,000 (US$128) on a smartphone and a new SIM card they don’t necessarily need,” he told AFP.