Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday that there is little to no possibility that the city's schools will fully reopen on April 20.
Speaking at her weekly media briefing, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor added that while classes could only resume in stages, the government had been trying to boost the supply of children’s masks by asking the Correctional Services Department for help.
Lam’s attempt to manage parents’ expectations came alongside her announcement that all travellers from foreign countries arriving in Hong Kong from Thursday would undergo mandatory quarantine. The move was seen as an attempt to combat a rise in imported infections, which account for about half of the city’s confirmed cases.
About 900,000 kindergarten, primary and secondary students have been out of school since February 3, with April 20 targeted as a tentative date for resumption of classes.
Last week, teachers and principals suggested schools begin reopening in stages from that date, though Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, a medical expert advising Lam, said schools should reopen only if no locally transmitted coronavirus infections had been recorded for four weeks.
“In terms of class resumption, we will be very cautious. It seems that there’s little, if any, possibility that schools can completely resume on April 20,” Lam said at Tuesday’s briefing.
“Even if the situation stabilises, we can only do that in stages.”
Meanwhile, mask procurement for students remains difficult, Lam said at Tuesday’s briefing, saying various government departments had been stepping in to help.
“The Correctional Services Department is modifying one of its semi-automated production lines to specialise in children’s mask production. It will also adopt new machines or parts to produce such masks,” she said.
“The Government Logistics Department also procured a batch of children’s masks, and we are willing to share it with schools … and the Education Bureau has been asking manufacturers in mainland China to increase supply of such masks.”
She added that even though Hong Kong’s civil servants had resumed working in their offices, they were practising strict social distancing.