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IMPORTANT MESSAGES

2021.05.01 

FHB thanks the public for co-operation in compulsory testing

A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) thanked the general public for their co-operation in undergoing compulsory testing for fighting the virus together on May 1.

The Government has been adopting the new direction for fighting the pandemic since mid-April. Targeted border control and infection control measures were introduced to safeguard Hong Kong against imported cases and prevent cases from spreading locally.

The spokesman said, "For local cases with unknown sources of infection involving mutant strains, the Government has to be decisive in adopting swiftly stringent testing and quarantine measures, with an aim to cutting the transmission chains as soon as possible. Otherwise, the whole society will have to bear significant consequence when there is a major outbreak."

Testing has been an integral part of the strategy in preventing and fighting the virus. The Government has been implementing the Targeted Group Testing Scheme for high-risk and high-exposure groups and essential staff of critical infrastructure and services, etc since mid-2020. Around 3.4 million tests have been conducted so far. Among them, all foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) were offered a one-off free test on a voluntary basis at community testing centres (CTCs) from mid-December 2020 to end February this year. Over 34 000 FDHs, equivalent to less than 10 per cent of the total number of FDHs in Hong Kong, had received voluntary testing at CTCs during the period. Under the new direction for fighting the pandemic, high-risk or high-exposure groups such as staff members of residential care homes for the elderly, residential care homes for persons with disabilities and nursing homes, as well as most of the frontline staff of catering businesses, are required to undergo regular testing if they have not completed a COVID-19 vaccination course.

"The Government requested on April 30 that all FDHs in Hong Kong who had yet to complete a COVID-19 vaccination course to receive testing on a compulsory basis on or before May 9. In accordance with the established practice, the relevant decision was made solely on public health grounds after detailed risk assessment. The factors that have been taken into account include that two recent cases involving N501Y mutant strain were FDHs, the transmissibility of mutant strains is higher, the sources of infection of the cases were not known, and that the confirmed case had gatherings and contacts with other FDHs during the incubation and infection periods, etc.

"Although the sheer number of FDHs in Hong Kong would impose challenges to the local testing capacity in the short term, we need to keep up our efforts in testing high-risk, high-exposure and high transmissibility risk groups in order to cut the latent transmission chains in the community as early as possible. The Government would like to express gratitude to all those who received test today, including FDHs, for their patience and understanding. The Government will enhance testing capacity in the coming few days to enable the public to receive testing. We also encourage them to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their family members."

Those who completed a COVID-19 vaccination course would be taken as having complied with the requirements in the compulsory testing notices. They would also be exempted from regular testing. The two vaccines currently recognised in Hong Kong are safe and effective, and have been received by tens of millions of people worldwide. Getting vaccinated can protect oneself and those around. It is the best way to fight the virus. Most people are fit for getting vaccinated.

"In view of the threat posed by the mutant strains, it is imperative for us to get vaccinated. While there is still shortage in COVID-19 vaccines internationally, the two vaccines procured by the Government are sufficient for all Hong Kong people to get vaccinated. At present, there are still plenty of unutilized quotas in the 29 community vaccination centres and over 1000 private clinics. We call on the public to treasure the vaccine supply in Hong Kong and get vaccinated as soon as possible."

The Government reminds persons subject to compulsory testing, including FDHs, that they may choose to undergo COVID-19 virus testing via the following routes:
1. To visit any of the mobile specimen collection stations (see the list and target groups (if applicable) at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html) for testing;
2. To attend any of the community testing centres (see the list at www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/);
3. To obtain a deep throat saliva specimen collection pack from any of the 121 post offices, vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations or 47 designated general outpatient clinics (GOPCs) of the Hospital Authority (HA) and return the specimen to one of the designated specimen collection points (see the distribution points and times, and the specimen collection points and times, at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/early-testing.html);
4. To undergo testing at any of the GOPCs of the Hospital Authority as instructed by a medical professional of the Hospital Authority;
5. To self-arrange testing provided by private laboratories which are recognised by the Department of Health (DH) and can issue SMS notifications in respect of test results (see the list at www.coronavirus.gov.hk/pdf/List_of_recognised_laboratories_RTPCR.pdf); or
6. To use a specimen bottle distributed to the relevant specified premises by the Centre for Health Protection (if applicable), and return the specimen bottle with the sample collected as per relevant guidelines.

Currently, there are a total of 21 community testing centres providing testing service for the public, including free service for persons subject to compulsory testing. The number of tests available for appointments at community testing centres has been increased to over 38 000 per day, and additional manpower has been deployed to serve the public. As of 6pm today, there are more than 40 000 booking places available for the next eight days (May 2 to 9) at the 21 community testing centres. Booking and walk-in services are available. Members of the public only need to provide simple personal information on the 24-hour booking system (www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/). Booking status of centres for the coming week will be shown for public’s selection of suitable testing centre and time slot for testing. The testing centres will accord priority to serve individuals with advance bookings. Members of the public may call the testing centres for enquiries on the availability of bookings or walk-in quotas before visiting the centres.

In view of the surge in testing demand within a short period of time, the Government has set up 18 new mobile specimen collection stations in a number of districts today, bringing the total number of stations to 35. The Government will add one more station for FDHs at Kowloon Park tomorrow (May 2), and extend the operating hours of the stations set up by the Labour Department and the Food and Health Bureau at four popular gathering places of FDHs to 8pm to further enable FDHs to undergo testing. Coupled with the 21 community testing centres, there will be a total of 57 community testing centres/mobile specimen collection stations in various districts tomorrow to provide free service for persons subject to compulsory testing. Among them, 55 stations are open to FDHs for free testing. The opening dates and operating hours of the mobile specimen collection stations in various districts providing free COVID-19 nucleic acid testing services for the general public are stated in Annex.

In addition, persons subject to compulsory testing can obtain deep throat saliva specimen collection packs at designated hours at 47 HA GOPCs, 121 post offices or vending machines set up at 20 MTR stations for free on a first-come-first-served basis while stocks last; and return their specimens to the 47 HA GOPCs, 13 designated clinics of the DH or 23 specimen collection points at Government premises. Over the past few weeks, the Government has distributed an average of some 30 000 to 40 000 specimen collection packs daily, and the average number of specimen bottles collected per day was less than 20 000, which is around half of the amount distributed. The Government appealed to the public and organisations again to refrain from collecting excessive sets of packs so that others in need can also obtain specimen collection packs for testing. The Government will also continue to review the usage and public demand for the testing service, and make suitable adjustments to the relevant service.

Annex

2021.05.01 

LWB response to the requirement for foreign domestic helpers to receive compulsory testing and vaccination arrangement

In response to the community's concerns over the requirement for foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to receive compulsory testing for COVID-19 and the vaccination arrangement, the Labour and Welfare Bureau today (May 1) made further explanations on the relevant arrangements.

In view of recent incidents of FDHs confirmed with infection of COVID-19 with the N501Y mutant strain, the Government announced yesterday (April 30) that all FDHs working in Hong Kong should receive compulsory testing in the period from May 1 to May 9. Given that the source of infection is unknown, it indicates that there may already be silent transmission chains of the mutant strain in the community. The compulsory testing is an important risk-based measure adopted by the health authorities in view of the evolving situation of the pandemic and is supported by public health experts. The FDH population is significant at about 370 000. Their job mainly involves taking care of family members, including the elderly and children, etc. If an FDH is infected with the virus, the employer's family members may be infected. In addition, as FDHs have regular social gatherings, coupled with the high transmissibility of the N501Y mutant strain, any infection involving FDHs might result in cross-household infections. Hence, it is necessary for the Government to mandate all FDHs to receive testing in order to completely cut any possible transmission chains in the community. Compulsory testing also applies to persons in other high-risk industries, such as staff of residential care homes for the elderly, residential care homes for persons with disabilities and nursing homes. There is no discrimination on race or status.

The Government appeals to all FDHs to receive vaccination as soon as possible in order to protect their own health and that of their employers' family and others, and to avoid being subject to any regular testing in the future. Employers should encourage and assist FDHs to receive vaccination, such as allowing sufficient rest for FDHs after receiving vaccination.

Regarding the arrangement of requiring FDHs to receive recognised vaccines when applying for contract renewal in the future, the Labour Department and the Immigration Department are working out the relevant details. If an FDH chooses to work in Hong Kong, he/she may receive the vaccination. If an FDH is unable to receive vaccination due to health reasons, he/she may be considered for exemption from the relevant requirement. As regards the medical expenses of FDHs, the employer's responsibility is the same as that under the existing regulation. According to Clause 9(a) of the Standard Employment Contract, in the event that the FDH is ill or suffers personal injury during the period of employment (except for the period during which the FDH leaves Hong Kong of his or her own volition and for his or her own personal purposes), the employer shall provide free medical treatment. Under the prevailing policy, eligible FDHs enjoy public healthcare services at a highly-subsidised rate by the Government. In addition, under the Indemnity Fund for Adverse Events Following Immunization with COVID-19 Vaccines, an FDH could, same as other Hong Kong people, apply for financial support from the indemnity fund if he/she suffers unexpected serious adverse events associated with the vaccine. The relevant departments will make an announcement after confirming the details for the above arrangements.

The Government thanks all FDHs and their employers in Hong Kong for their understanding and co-operation with the anti-epidemic measures.


2021.04.18 

Blog of Secretary for Labour and Welfare: New stage in fighting the pandemic – Tightened passenger flight suspension mechanism may impact on foreign domestic helpers and their employers

The Chief Executive set out the new direction in fighting the pandemic last Monday (April 12). Apart from restoring the city to normality in a gradual and orderly manner on the basis of the "vaccine bubble", infection control measures will also be reinforced in a targeted manner, one of which is to guard against the importation of virus variants into Hong Kong.

In this connection, the Food and Health Bureau has already announced the implementation of tightened passenger flight suspension mechanism (please refer to the relevant press release for details). It should be noted that a place-specific flight suspension mechanism has been added in parallel. Under the mechanism effective from April 14, should a total of five or more passengers among flights from the same place be confirmed by arrival tests for COVID-19 with the N501Y mutant strain (variant of concern as identified by the World Health Organisation) within a period of seven-day or even a shorter period, the Government would prohibit all passenger flights from that place from landing in Hong Kong for a period of 14 days. At the same time, the Government would specify that place as an extremely high-risk place under Cap. 599H to restrict persons who have stayed in that place for more than two hours from boarding passenger flights to Hong Kong for a period of 14 days, so as to prevent persons from the relevant place from arriving in Hong Kong via transit. After 14 days, the relevant place would be specified as a very high-risk place, and passenger flights to Hong Kong from that place could resume. Persons in the relevant place who fulfilled the boarding requirements could board flights to Hong Kong. However, they must undergo compulsory quarantine for 21 days upon arrival at Hong Kong.

Why would I, as Secretary for Labour and Welfare, see the need to draw the public's attention to this tightened mechanism? If one looks at the distribution of COVID-19 confirmed cases released by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health each day, one would notice that the

recent imported COVID-19 cases, both confirmed/suspected, were mainly brought in by inbound flights from certain countries/places, including the Philippines and Indonesia, which are major places of origin of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs). Given the serious epidemic situation in the Philippines recently, there is a high chance that it would be affected by the new place-specific flight suspension mechanism.

About 100 FDHs arrive in Hong Kong by air every day in April. In case the place-specific flight suspension mechanism is invoked by the aforesaid detection of confirmed arrival cases, all inbound passenger flights from the places concerned would be prohibited from landing in Hong Kong for a period of 14 days, which may affect over a thousand FDHs and their employers. Not only would newly-hired FDHs be delayed from arriving in Hong Kong, but those who have returned to their home country for vacation may also be stranded. Yet, given the overriding priority in combatting the pandemic, it is necessary for our health authority to tighten the flight suspension mechanism. We therefore remind FDHs, employers and employment agencies to make plans in advance. The Labour Department has already reached out to the Consulates General of major FDH sending countries in Hong Kong, FDH and employer groups as well as employment agency associations to inform them of the implementation of the new mechanism, and to widely disseminate the relevant messages with a view to passing the news to employers and FDHs quickly for making early preparations.

Flexibility arrangement of deferral of return to place of origin

The Government has rolled out a number of measures to support FDHs and their employers to cope with the pandemic since early 2020, so as to reduce the need for FDHs to enter and leave Hong Kong. Employers are allowed to extend the validity period of existing contracts with their outgoing FDHs. For all FDH contracts that will expire on or before June 30, 2021, the Commissioner for Labour has given in-principle consent for extending the employment period for a maximum period of three months subject to agreement between the employer and the FDH. We have also further extended the flexibility arrangement of deferral of FDHs’ return to their places of origin. If an FDH is unable to return to his/her place of origin within the first one-year deferral period, he/she may, upon agreement of his/her employer, apply to the Immigration Department for a further extension of limit of stay until the end of his/her contract such that he/she may return to the place of origin within that period. We announced the extension of the facilitation arrangements last month (March 29).

The above flexibility arrangements must be mutually agreed between the employer and the FDH. We appreciate that FDHs would want to go back to their home countries for family reunion. Most of the FDHs who have completed and renewed their contracts in early 2020 have not had the chance to return home to visit their families for two or three years. On the other hand, employers are understandably concerned about any hindrance faced by FDHs during their home trips from and to Hong Kong. I appeal to candid dialogues, mutual respect and understanding between FDHs and their employers in working out an appropriate arrangement.

Let's get vaccinated

In case FDHs need to return home during this period of time, employers should encourage them to get vaccinated before leaving Hong Kong. By doing so, not only would FDHs protect themselves, their employers and their friends in Hong Kong, but also their families and friends at home. Supply of vaccines is still very tight in many places. Here in Hong Kong, we have ensured a sufficient supply of vaccines, which are provided to the public free of charge. Indeed, FDHs have been listed as a priority group for receiving vaccination. I appeal to FDHs and employers to take the opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The Labour Department has published leaflets on vaccination in Chinese, English and major FDH languages (including Tagalog and Bahasa Indonesia) and has distributed them to FDHs through various channels. The leaflets are available on the dedicated FDH portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk) of the Labour Department. The Consulate General of the Philippines in Hong Kong and the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Hong Kong have also played an active role in assisting the promotion. The Labour Department has already liaised with other groups to widely disseminate messages of encouraging FDHs to get vaccinated, such as through Facebook and other online social media platforms of FDH groups, local Filipino and Indonesian newspapers read by FDHs and their respective Facebook pages, e-wallet applications frequently used by FDHs, the non-governmental organisation at the airport and churches.

Annex : COVID-19 Vaccination Programme


2021.04.18 

Government invokes place-specific flight suspension mechanism

The Government announced today (April 18) the invocation of the place-specific flight suspension mechanism for India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. From 00:00 on April 20, all passenger flights from these places will be prohibited from landing in Hong Kong for 14 days. These places will also at the same time be specified as extremely high-risk Group A specified places under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H), so as to restrict persons who have stayed in these places from boarding for Hong Kong. The suspension will be effective for 14 days.

The Government implemented on April 14 the tightened flight-specific suspension mechanism, as well as the new place-specific flight suspension mechanism in parallel. Under the place-specific flight suspension mechanism, if a total of five or more passengers among all flights from the same place, regardless of airline, were confirmed by arrival tests for COVID-19 with the N501Y mutant strain within a seven-day period, the Government would invoke Cap. 599H to prohibit all passenger flights from that place from landing in Hong Kong for 14 days, and would at the same time specify that place as an extremely high-risk place under Cap. 599H to restrict persons who have stayed in that place for more than two hours from boarding passenger flights for Hong Kong for 14 days, so as to prevent persons from the relevant place from arriving at Hong Kong via transit.

A Government spokesman said, “With confirmed cases involving the N501Y mutant strain detected for the first time in the community in Hong Kong, for prudence’s sake, the Government has applied the criteria of the newly implemented place-specific flight suspension mechanism retrospectively for 14 days on places where there had been imported cases confirmed by arrival tests that carried the N501Y mutant strain. India, Pakistan, and the Philippines all had seven-day cumulative number of relevant cases that reached the relevant criteria in the past 14 days, and the Government will therefore invoke the place-specific flight suspension mechanism for these three places.”

The place-specific suspension mechanism for these three places will be effective for 14 days from midnight on April 20. Relevant restrictions will include the prohibition of passenger flights from these places from landing in Hong Kong, as well as specifying these three places as Group A specified places under Cap. 599H to restrict any person who have stayed in these places for more than two hours on the day of boarding or 21 days before that day from boarding for Hong Kong.

At the same time, to enhance the testing of persons returning to Hong Kong from overseas places, the Government will issue a compulsory testing notice for persons who returned to Hong Kong from extremely high-risk places specified under Cap. 599H (that is the current Group A specified places). After completing the compulsory quarantine for 21 days as well as the testing on the 12th and 19th day during quarantine, these persons returning to Hong Kong will also need to self-monitor further for another seven days, and be subject to nucleic acid testing on the 26th day of their return to Hong Kong.

“The Government will continue to closely monitor the development of the global and local epidemic situation, and will further adjust the relevant inbound prevention and control measures as necessary,” the Government spokesman said.


2021.03.30 

Labour Department continues to set up mobile specimen collection stations to provide free COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers

The Labour Department (LD) announced today (March 30) that mobile specimen collection stations will continue to be set up at popular gathering places of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) on Sundays in April and the day following Ching Ming Festival (April 5) to provide a free COVID-19 testing service for FDHs.

An LD spokesman said, "The LD had set up mobile specimen collection stations in March at popular gathering places of FDHs to facilitate all FDHs in Hong Kong to receive testing. To benefit more FDHs, the LD will continue to provide the testing service to all FDHs in April. We strongly encourage FDHs to participate in the free testing to safeguard their health. We also appeal to employment agencies and employers to encourage and arrange for FDHs to receive the free testing service at designated mobile specimen collection stations. No prior appointment is required."

The four mobile specimen collection stations will be set up at the Chater Road Pedestrian Precinct in Central (near the bus stop), the Hing Fat Street entrance of Victoria Park in Causeway Bay (near Exit A2 of MTR Tin Hau Station), the Lai Chi Kok Park entrance (near Exit D of MTR Mei Foo Station) and the Tsuen Wan Park entrance (near Exit D of MTR Tsuen Wan West Station). Mobile specimen collection stations are open on Sundays in April (April 4, 11, 18 and 25) and the day following Ching Ming Festival (April 5), from 10am to 5pm. An FDH should bring along his or her Hong Kong identity card or passport, and register his or her personal information on the spot at the government website (www.tgptest.gov.hk; The category "Non-Government Staff - Foreign domestic helpers" should be selected) in order to receive an SMS notification of the test result. FDHs will be given the barcode number of the specimen bottle they collect after registration for reference. If necessary, duty officers can assist FDHs in registration.

The testing agent will provide the specimen collection service by combined nasal and throat swab to FDHs receiving the test, and will deliver the specimens to the laboratory for testing. The testing agent will not acquire or retain any personal information of the participants. Participants will be notified of a negative test result via SMS. Positive cases will be referred to the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH) for follow-up and the DH will contact the participant concerned if it is confirmed to be an infection case.

For enquiries, please contact the LD through the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by 1823) or by email fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk.


2021.03.29 

Measures to assist foreign domestic helpers and employers to cope with COVID-19 pandemic extended

The Government today (March 29) announced that the measures to assist foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic will be extended with immediate effect.

Extension of validity period of existing contracts

The Government will continue to implement the previous measure to enable employers to extend the validity period of the existing contracts with their outgoing FDHs. For all FDH contracts that will expire on or before June 30, 2021, the Commissioner for Labour has given in-principle consent for extending the employment period stated in Clause 2 of the Standard Employment Contract for a maximum period of three months, on the basis that such variation is agreed upon by both the employer and the FDH. However, applications for further extension of those contracts which have already been extended under the previous flexibility arrangements including that announced on December 30, 2020 will not be considered.

Based on the experience from the previous flexibility arrangements, a three-month extended period could allow sufficient time for employers to arrange their newly hired FDHs to come to Hong Kong. If a newly hired FDH cannot be arranged to come to Hong Kong within the three-month extended period and the employer needs to continue to employ his/her FDH beyond the three-month extended period, the employer should apply for a contract renewal with the existing FDH. It is an employer's duty to make advance preparations to arrange their newly hired FDHs to come to Hong Kong within the three-month extended period of employment of their existing FDHs and/or arrange for contract renewal with their existing FDHs.

Deferral of return to the place of origin

Under the prevailing mechanism, an FDH on a renewed contract with the same employer, or due to start a new contract with a new employer upon the expiry of an existing contract, may apply to the Immigration Department (ImmD) for deferring return to the place of origin for not more than one year after the existing contract ends, subject to agreement of his/her current employer or new employer.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government will further extend the relevant flexibility arrangement announced on December 30, 2020. If an FDH is unable to return to his/her place of origin within the aforementioned one-year period, he/she may, upon agreement with his/her employer, apply to the ImmD for a further extension of limit of stay until the end of his/her contract such that he/she may return to the place of origin within that period.

If FDHs who have already been granted further extension of stay under the previous flexibility arrangements announced by the Government on March 21, June 30, September 30 and December 30, 2020 wish to further defer their return to the place of origin, they may still apply to the ImmD for a further extension of limit of stay in Hong Kong until the end of their contract such that they may return to the place of origin within that period.

The Government reminds employers and FDHs that the above flexibility arrangement must be mutually agreed between the employer and the FDH, and that the requirement that FDHs should return to their place of origin continues to be in place. Employers should arrange their FDHs to return to the place of origin within the extended limit of stay.

The Government will continue to closely monitor the situations and review the above measures and flexibility arrangements as and when necessary.

Meanwhile, the Labour Department (LD) and the ImmD will continue to adopt proactive measures to combat "job-hopping" of individual FDHs. The LD has initiated an investigation into each complaint about employment agencies (EAs) inducing FDHs to job-hop and conducted joint operations with the ImmD to inspect the relevant EAs. The LD has also issued letters to all EAs of FDHs to remind them that they should not encourage or induce FDHs to job-hop through improper business practices. The ImmD will continue to step up efforts to combat "job-hopping" by FDHs rigorously. For suspected "job-hopping" cases, the ImmD will refuse the employment visa applications concerned and require the applicants to leave Hong Kong.

For enquiries on employment rights and benefits, please contact the LD at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") or by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk. The dedicated FDH Portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk) set up by the LD also provides information and useful links relating to the employment of FDHs. For enquiries on FDH visa applications, please contact the ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk .


2021.03.15 

Vaccination priority groups to be expanded to cover people aged 30 or above

The Government announced today (March 15) that the priority groups under the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme will be expanded to cover people aged between 30 and 59, students aged 16 or above studying outside Hong Kong and domestic helpers.

Members of the public in these new categories can make reservations starting from 9am tomorrow (March 16) through the online booking system on the designated website of the Vaccination Programme (www.covidvaccine.gov.hk) for receiving vaccines at Community Vaccination Centres (CVCs) and the 18 general out-patient clinics of the Hospital Authority. They can also make appointments for vaccination with a private doctor or clinic participating in the programme.

"We believe that members of the public are concerned and worried about the recent cluster outbreak in a fitness centre which has led to an increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a short period of time. Apart from striving to contain the epidemic at the soonest and continuing to maintain good personal hygiene, it is of utmost importance for people to get vaccinated as early as possible," a spokesman for the Government said.

"Taking into account the supply of the vaccines and the operation of the Vaccination Programme, we have decided to expand the scope of the priority groups so as to allow more people to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect oneself and others."

The priority groups, after expansion, are as follows:

1. Persons aged 30 years or above (a maximum of two carers who accompany elderly people aged 70 or above can also receive vaccination);
2. Personnel in healthcare settings and those participating in anti-epidemic related work;
3. Residents and staff of residential care homes for the elderly/residential care homes for persons with disabilities and staff of community care services units for the elderly/persons with disabilities;
4. Personnel maintaining critical public services;
5. Personnel providing cross-boundary transportation or working at control points and ports;
6. Staff of food and beverages premises, markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and couriers (including takeaway food delivery);
7. Staff of local public transport service operators;
8. Registered construction workers and other resident site personnel;
9. Staff of property management (including security and cleaning staff);
10. Teachers and school staff;
11. Staff of the tourism industry;
12. Staff of scheduled premises under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F);
13. Students studying outside Hong Kong (aged 16 or above); and
14. Domestic helpers.

After expansion, the vaccination priority groups will cover more than 5.5 million people, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the population aged 16 (the current minimum age for vaccination) or above.

The Vaccination Programme has been running smoothly since its launch on February 26. Starting from tomorrow, 12 CVCs administering the Comirnaty vaccine will come into operation, bringing the total number of CVCs to 19 (there are eight other CVCs administering the Sinovac vaccine), making it more convenient for the public to get vaccinated.

With the accumulation of operational experience at CVCs and the opening of more CVCs, the booking system will provide an additional daily vaccination quota of about 23 000. Furthermore, the public can also receive the Sinovac vaccine from some 1 400 private doctors at around 2 000 clinics participating in the programme.

Members of the public can search for information about all vaccination venues through the GeoInfo Map (www.map.gov.hk/gm/map/s/m/communityvaccinationservicesofcovid-19?lg=tc) and the Interactive Map Dashboard of COVID-19 (chp-dashboard.geodata.gov.hk/covid-19/zh.html) on the designated website.


2021.03.19 

COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

Vaccination priority groups have been expanded to cover foreign domestic helpers (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202103/15/P2021031500626.htm). For online booking and other details, please visit the designated website of the Vaccination Programme (www.covidvaccine.gov.hk). The website contains information in Chinese, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, Hindi, Sinhala, Bengali, Nepali and Urdu.


Leaflet on COVID-19 Vaccination Programme (Leaflet on "COVID-19 Vaccination Programme")

2021.03.15 

Vaccination priority groups to be expanded to cover people aged 30 or above

The Government announced today (March 15) that the priority groups under the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme will be expanded to cover people aged between 30 and 59, students aged 16 or above studying outside Hong Kong and domestic helpers.

Members of the public in these new categories can make reservations starting from 9am tomorrow (March 16) through the online booking system on the designated website of the Vaccination Programme (www.covidvaccine.gov.hk) for receiving vaccines at Community Vaccination Centres (CVCs) and the 18 general out-patient clinics of the Hospital Authority. They can also make appointments for vaccination with a private doctor or clinic participating in the programme.

"We believe that members of the public are concerned and worried about the recent cluster outbreak in a fitness centre which has led to an increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a short period of time. Apart from striving to contain the epidemic at the soonest and continuing to maintain good personal hygiene, it is of utmost importance for people to get vaccinated as early as possible," a spokesman for the Government said.

"Taking into account the supply of the vaccines and the operation of the Vaccination Programme, we have decided to expand the scope of the priority groups so as to allow more people to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect oneself and others."

The priority groups, after expansion, are as follows:

1. Persons aged 30 years or above (a maximum of two carers who accompany elderly people aged 70 or above can also receive vaccination);
2. Personnel in healthcare settings and those participating in anti-epidemic related work;
3. Residents and staff of residential care homes for the elderly/residential care homes for persons with disabilities and staff of community care services units for the elderly/persons with disabilities;
4. Personnel maintaining critical public services;
5. Personnel providing cross-boundary transportation or working at control points and ports;
6. Staff of food and beverages premises, markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and couriers (including takeaway food delivery);
7. Staff of local public transport service operators;
8. Registered construction workers and other resident site personnel;
9. Staff of property management (including security and cleaning staff);
10. Teachers and school staff;
11. Staff of the tourism industry;
12. Staff of scheduled premises under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F);
13. Students studying outside Hong Kong (aged 16 or above); and
14. Domestic helpers.

After expansion, the vaccination priority groups will cover more than 5.5 million people, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the population aged 16 (the current minimum age for vaccination) or above.

The Vaccination Programme has been running smoothly since its launch on February 26. Starting from tomorrow, 12 CVCs administering the Comirnaty vaccine will come into operation, bringing the total number of CVCs to 19 (there are eight other CVCs administering the Sinovac vaccine), making it more convenient for the public to get vaccinated.

With the accumulation of operational experience at CVCs and the opening of more CVCs, the booking system will provide an additional daily vaccination quota of about 23 000. Furthermore, the public can also receive the Sinovac vaccine from some 1 400 private doctors at around 2 000 clinics participating in the programme.

Members of the public can search for information about all vaccination venues through the GeoInfo Map (www.map.gov.hk/gm/map/s/m/communityvaccinationservicesofcovid-19?lg=tc) and the Interactive Map Dashboard of COVID-19 (chp-dashboard.geodata.gov.hk/covid-19/zh.html) on the designated website.


2021.03.14 

Labour Department set up mobile specimen collection stations to provide free COVID-19 testing service for foreign domestic helpers (with photos)

The Labour Department (LD) today (March 14) set up mobile specimen collection stations at popular gathering places of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to provide free COVID-19 testing service for FDHs.

A LD spokesman said, "To reduce transmission risk of the virus in the community, the LD set up mobile specimen collection stations at popular gathering places of FDHs today and next Sunday to facilitate all FDHs in Hong Kong to receive the COVID-19 test. We strongly encourage FDHs to participate in the free testing to safeguard their health. We also appeal to employment agencies and employers to encourage and arrange for FDHs to receive the free testing service at designated mobile specimen collection stations. No prior appointment is required. An FDH should bring along his / her Hong Kong identity card or passport and can register to receive the testing service on the spot."

The three mobile specimen collection stations were set up at Chater Road Pedestrian Precinct in Central (near the bus stop), Hing Fat Street entrance of Victoria Park in Causeway Bay (near Exit A2 of MTR Tin Hau Station) and Lai Chi Kok Park entrance (near Exit D of MTR Mei Foo Station). Mobile specimen collection stations will also be open next Sunday (March 21), from 10am to 5pm.

The testing agent will provide specimen collection service by combined nasal and throat swab to FDHs receiving the test. Participants will be notified of a negative test result via SMS. Positive cases will be referred to the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH) for follow-up and the DH will contact the participant concerned if it is confirmed to be an infection case.

Moreover, the LD also arranged publicity vans today and next Sunday to conduct mobile broadcasts in multiple languages at a number of popular FDH gathering places, including Central, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, to call upon FDHs to comply with the anti-epidemic regulations on the mask-wearing and prohibition of group gatherings of more than four persons in public places. The LD appeals to FDHs to exercise self-discipline and co-operate to fight the virus together and abide by the law.

For enquiries, please contact the LD through the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by 1823) or by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk.


2021.01.07 

Leaflet on "Advice for Foreign Domestic Helpers, Employers and Employment Agencies to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic"

Advice for Foreign Domestic Helpers, Employers and Employment Agencies to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic
Leaflet


2020.12.11

Labour Department reminds foreign domestic helpers and employers of the new measure on designated quarantine hotels

The Government announced today (December 11) that a new measure will be put in place with effect from 0.00am, December 22, 2020 to mandate all travellers arriving in Hong Kong from countries outside China to undergo 14-day compulsory quarantine at designated quarantine hotels in accordance with the directions under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H). The designated quarantine hotels can only receive the aforementioned inbound travellers who are subject to compulsory quarantine. The Government will arrange designated transportation for sending the travellers from the airport and the Holding Centre for Test Result to the designated quarantine hotels, with a view to reducing their contact with the community.

A Labour Department (LD) spokesman said, "LD reminds foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), employers and employment agencies (EAs) to take note of the aforementioned new measure. Before a relevant FDH is checked-in for a flight to Hong Kong, he/she should produce confirmation of room reservation at a designated quarantine hotel to the operator of the aircraft for boarding the aircraft. The room reservation should be for a period of not less than 14 nights starting on the day of the arrival of the relevant FDH in Hong Kong. Employers and EAs (if applicable) are reminded to make necessary preparations for their FDHs beforehand. If an FDH is not able to produce the said confirmation, he/she may not be allowed to board the flight to Hong Kong. Relevant FDHs are reminded that without the permission of an authorised officer, they are not allowed to leave the room and no one is allowed to visit them during the 14-day compulsory quarantine period. The hotels will provide three meals a day to the persons under quarantine."

"Employers are also reminded to comply with their obligations under the Standard Employment Contract, including bearing the accommodation expenses and providing food allowance to FDHs during the FDHs’ compulsory quarantine," the spokesman continued.

"For EAs, they have the responsibility to provide correct information to employers and FDHs. They should remind and/or assist employers in making relevant arrangements to comply with the relevant measure. If there is evidence that an EA has violated the requirements in the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies, the EA concerned will be penalised."

A list of designated quarantine hotels and relevant Frequently Asked Questions have been uploaded to the thematic webpage on Designated Hotels for Quarantine (www.designatedhotel.gov.hk). For enquiries on the new measure, please call the hotline of the Department of Health at 2125 1122. For enquiries on employment rights and benefits, please contact LD at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") or by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk.

Thematic Webpage on Designated Hotels for Quarantine

*For travellers arriving in Hong Kong on 21 December 2020, they should reserve hotel booking at a designated quarantine hotel before departure, otherwise they will be refused to board the flight. For details, please refer to the press release on "Latest development of Designated Quarantine Hotel Scheme" issued by the Government on 13 December 2020 (https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202012/13/P2020121300563.htm?fontSize=1).


2020.12.04

Labour Department reminds foreign domestic helpers and employers of tightening of social distancing measures by the Government

The Labour Department (LD) today (December 4) reminded foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and their employers of the tightening of social distancing measures by the Government and appealed to eligible FDHs to participate in the free COVID-19 testing service.

An LD spokesman said, "The Government has amended the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) to prohibit group gatherings of more than two persons in public places. A person who participates in a prohibited group gathering may be charged a fixed penalty, the amount of which will be raised to $5,000 starting from December 11. At the same time, the fixed penalty charged against a person who fails to wear a mask in accordance with the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I) will also be raised to $5,000 starting from December 11."

"We remind FDHs to observe and comply with the regulations and appeal to them to avoid meal gatherings, food sharing and other social activities on their rest days and stay at home for rest as far as possible to safeguard their personal health. We also encourage employers and FDHs to discuss rest day arrangements and arrange rest days on a weekday instead of during the weekend, so as to minimise the health risk of participating in social activities. The Government will continue to conduct mobile broadcast at popular FDH gathering places across the territory to call upon FDHs to comply with the latest requirements. As at November 30, a total of 37 FDHs were charged a fixed penalty for breach of the Cap. 599G requirements."

Employers are reminded that they must not compel their FDHs to work on a rest day. Under the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57), if an employer requests an FDH to work on a rest day, the employer must substitute another rest day for the FDH within 30 days after the original rest day; the employer must also notify the FDH of the arrangement within 48 hours after he/she is required to work. An employer who compels his/her FDH to work on a rest day without the agreement of the FDH or fails to grant rest days to the FDH is in breach of the Employment Ordinance and is liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000.

"Regarding FDHs who have to stay in boarding facilities while waiting to change employers, we strongly advise them to actively participate in the free COVID-19 testing service provided by LD to safeguard their health.  If an FDH needs to stay in a boarding facility for an extended period of time while waiting to change employers, he/she may retake the test as appropriate, especially before joining the new employer’s family. We appeal for employment agencies (EAs)' active assistance in arranging for FDHs to collect specimen collection packs at LD’s temporary distribution/collection point at the Wan Chai Sports Ground and to return the specimens for testing.  Employers are also strongly advised to check that their new FDHs have a valid negative test result before joining the family," the spokesman continued.

"At the same time, we would like to remind EAs not to arrange FDHs to stay in crowded environments and pay attention to personal hygiene and maintain social distance. Pursuant to the Code of Practice for EAs promulgated by the Commissioner for Labour, should an EA conduct any other activities (e.g. providing temporary accommodation) or non-EA related business at an EA’s licensed address or other premises, the EA must comply with the relevant laws at all times. EAs in breach of the Code of Practice for EAs may have their licences revoked or refused renewal by the Commissioner for Labour."

Details of the free COVID-19 testing service provided by LD from December 1 to December 24 for FDHs waiting to join their new employers’ family can be found in the press release issued on November 27 (www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202011/27/P2020112600605.htm).

Should FDHs and their employers have any enquiries on employment matters or the testing service, they may contact LD through the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by 1823), by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk or through the online form on the dedicated portal (www.fdh.labour.gov.hk).


2020.07.18

Labour Department reminds foreign domestic helpers and employers of specifications relating to travelling to Hong Kong

The Government announced today (July 18) that it had gazetted the specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) to impose conditions based on public health grounds in order to further reduce the number of imported cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A traveller who, on the day on which the traveller boarded a civil aviation aircraft that arrives at, or is about to arrive at Hong Kong, or during the 14 days before that day, has stayed in any specified place (i.e. Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa), he/she must meet the conditions specified by the Secretary for Food and Health. The relevant specifications will come into effect at 0.00am on July 25, 2020, and will remain effective until further notice.

The Labour Department (LD) reminds foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), employers and employment agencies (EAs) to take note of the aforementioned specifications. For an FDH to whom the specifications apply, he/she must provide the following documents:

1. a letter or certificate in English or Chinese issued by a laboratory or healthcare institution bearing the name and identity card or passport number of the relevant FDH to show that:
(a) the relevant FDH underwent a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 the sample for which was taken from the relevant FDH within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the specified aircraft;
(b) the test conducted on the sample is a nucleic acid test for COVID-19; and
(c) the result of the test is that the relevant FDH was tested negative for COVID-19;
2. the original of the report for the test issued by the laboratory or healthcare institution bearing the name and identity card or passport number of the relevant FDH;
3. a letter in English or Chinese issued by the relevant authority of the government of the place in which the laboratory or healthcare institution is located certifying that the laboratory or healthcare institution is recognised or approved by the government; and
4. the relevant FDH has confirmation in English or Chinese of room reservation in a hotel in Hong Kong for not less than 14 days starting on the day of the arrival of the relevant FDH in Hong Kong.

An LD spokesman said, "Before the relevant FDH is checked-in for a flight to Hong Kong, he/she should produce the above documents to the operator of the aircraft for boarding the aircraft. Employers and EAs (if applicable) are reminded to make necessary preparations for their FDHs beforehand. If an FDH is not able to meet any of the conditions specified by the Secretary for Food and Health, he/she may not be allowed to board the flight to Hong Kong and newly arrived FDHs may be denied entry into Hong Kong upon arrival. Relevant FDHs are reminded to stay at the hotel address as stated in the quarantine order during the 14-day compulsory quarantine."

"Employers should bear the cost of the nucleic acid test for their FDHs. Employers applying to the Immigration Department (ImmD) to employ domestic helpers will be required to sign an undertaking to the Government, indicating that they will comply with the relevant specifications and bear the cost of the nucleic acid test when arranging for their FDHs to come to Hong Kong, in case their FDHs have stayed in a specified place on the day on which they boarded an aircraft that arrives at, or is about to arrive at Hong Kong, or during the 14 days before that day. Employers found to be in breach of the undertaking may be given an adverse record and ImmD may refuse their future applications for employment of FDHs. Employers are also reminded to comply with their obligations under the Standard Employment Contract, including bearing the accommodation expenses and providing food allowance to FDHs during the FDHs' compulsory quarantine," the spokesman continued.

"For EAs, they have the responsibility to provide correct information to employers and FDH. They should remind and/or assist employers in making relevant arrangements to comply with the relevant specifications. If there is evidence that an EA has violated the requirements in the Code of Practice for Employment Agencies, the EA concerned will be penalised."

A list of licensed hotels is available at the website of the Office of the Licensing Authority of the Home Affairs Department (www.hadla.gov.hk/cgi-bin/hadlanew/search.pl?client=1&searchtype=1&licenceNo=&name=&address=&room=0&district=0&displaytype=2). When choosing a hotel for quarantine purpose, employers and EAs (if applicable) are reminded to contact the hotel for more details and refer to the Infection Control Advice for Person under Compulsory Home Quarantine (www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/infection_control_advice.pdf) issued by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

For enquiries on employment rights and benefits, please contact LD at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") or by email to fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk. As to enquiries on FDH visa applications, please contact ImmD by calling the enquiry hotline at 2824 6111 or by email to enquiry@immd.gov.hk.


2020.03.18

Labour Department appeals to employers and employment agencies to make arrangements for foreign domestic helpers undergoing compulsory home quarantine

The Labour Department (LD) today (March 18) appeals to employers of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) and employment agencies (EAs) to make necessary arrangement to accommodate the compulsory home quarantine for FDHs travelling to Hong Kong.

Following the Red Outbound Travel Alert announced by the Government on March 17, 2020 on all overseas countries/territories based on public health considerations, the Department of Health (DH) has extended health quarantine arrangements on inbound travellers arriving from all countries/territories accordingly and demand them to undergo compulsory home quarantine with effect from 0.00am on March 19, 2020.

LD appeals to the assistance of FDH employers and their EAs in reminding FDHs to comply with the compulsory quarantine requirement. While FDHs are expected to stay at their employers' residence, should an employer wish to arrange the FDH to stay out from his/her residence, the employer should make prior arrangement with his/her EA (if applicable) to accommodate the FDH concerned. The employer is reminded to comply with his/her obligations under the Standard Employment Contract, including bearing the accommodation expenses and providing food allowance to the FDH. An employer shall not compel his/her FDH to work outside of the employer's residence.  Employers or their EAs are also advised to educate FDHs under compulsory home quarantine to stay at home at all times and follow the health advice of DH.

For enquiry on employment rights and benefits, please contact LD at the dedicated FDH hotline at 2157 9537 (manned by "1823") by email at fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk

CHP's guidelines on home quarantine CHP's guidelines on quarantine in hotels

2020.01.29

Encourage foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to receive Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination

To prevent infection and transmission in the community, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health advises all FDHs who are non-immune to either measles or rubella to receive MMR vaccine, preferably before they arrive in Hong Kong. If this is not possible, they can consult a doctor after they have arrived in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong adult residents who are non-immune to measles may receive free MMR vaccines starting from 3 February. The service period lasts for around six months. In particular, the Government encourages participation from people who are non-locally born, people of all ethnicities, post-secondary students, FDHs and people who have frequent contact with tourists.

Eligible Hong Kong residents who wish to join the programme must make prior booking for vaccination. For details, please refer to www.chp.gov.hk/en/features/101938.html.

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Introduction

The Employment Agencies Administration of the Labour Department is responsible for enforcing Part XII of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) and the Employment Agency Regulations (Cap. 57A).


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