CE says all govt officials must use annual leave to undergo quarantine, ongoing investigation to determine if anti-epidemic regulations are violated

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7th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Chief Executive Carrie Lam issued a statement in the evening, instructing all officials under quarantine not to continue to perform their duties during the quarantine period and to use their own annual leave for quarantine. The SAR government has made appropriate arrangements to ensure that day-to-day work is not affected, including appointing the Deputy Commissioner/Chief of the ICAC Executive Office Ricky Yau as the Commissioner of the Independent Commission, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) Oscar Kwok Yam-shu as the Commissioner of Police, and the Immigration Department Deputy Commissioner Benson Kwok as the Director of Immigration during their absence.

Carrie Lam learnt from the CHP today afternoon that the banquet may involve another preliminary positive case and that the person tested preliminarily positive took part in the banquet from 6pm to 8pm. If the case is confirmed eventually, all participants of the banquet will be classified as close contacts and are required to be sent to the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre for quarantine. In other words, the eight officials, who were not required to be subject to quarantine given the attendance at the banquet after 9.30pm in relation to the first confirmed case, will be classified as close contacts who need to be subject to quarantine.

  Having regard to the latest development and the report by several more officials who had attended the banquet, in addition to the three officials who attended the banquet after 9.30pm and were sent to the quarantine centre (the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Caspar Tsui; the Director of Immigration, Mr Au Ka-wang; and the Political Assistant to the Secretary for Development, Mr Allen Fung), 10 more officials will be arranged to be sent to the quarantine centre, while pending confirmation by the CHP in due course on the status of the new infection case.

Since the Secretary for Home Affairs and Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury  Financial Service and Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury are subject to quarantine, the Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip will concurrently serve as the Secretary for Home Affairs, while the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau will also serve as the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury. All acting and part-time arrangements will be effective until the relevant officials complete the quarantine.

Regarding whether the action of 13 government officials at the birthday party violated discipline, she has instructed Eric Chan, Director of the Chief Executive’s Office, and Patrick Nip to investigate in detail. Eric Chan will handle the investigations of 10 politically appointed officials and Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Simon Peh while Nip will handle the investigations of two department heads who are civil servants. The investigation will cover the details of each official attending the birthday party, including arrival and time spent at the party, behaviour during the birthday party etc, and will refer to the “Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulations and Instructions) by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department”.

As for the law enforcement work on the Spanish restaurant i.e.  Reserva Iberica, Tapas bar & restaurant , 1/F Causeway Centre, 28 Harbour Road , Wan Chai and customers, she has asked the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to conduct investigations as soon as possible in accordance with the law and report the investigation results to the public in due course.

Witman Hung, Deputy to National People’s Congress and Principal Liaison Officer for Hong Kong · Shenzhen Qianhai Authority held a birthday party for more than 160 people including top government officials such as police chief Raymond Siu and Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui at Reserva Ibérica Tapas Bar & Restaurant in Causeway Centre in Wan Chai on Monday (3rd). 

Meanwhile, Simon Peh, the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption also issued a statement that he briefly attended the birthday party in Wan Chai at 6pm on 3rd January and left soon after congratulating his friend. He did not stay to have a meal. He understands that as the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the incident when all sectors in Hong Kong are working to fight the epidemic, and he is deeply sorry. He sincerely apologised to the Central Government, the Chief Executive, colleagues of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the citizens of Hong Kong for the additional burden that his personal actions have brought to the epidemic prevention work. He will fully cooperate with the arrangements of the Centre for Health Protection and undergo quarantine at Penny’s Bay.

The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui said this evening that, “I and the Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Joseph Chan, briefly stayed at a birthday gathering on 3rd January evening. There were participants of the gathering tested or tested preliminarily positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus involving mutant strains, we therefore will proceed to undergo quarantine at the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre in accordance with the arrangement of the Centre for Health Protection.”

“Hong Kong is currently facing severe epidemic situation. I and Joseph apologise to the community for the additional burden to the anti-epidemic work caused by the incident. We will attach utmost importance to fighting virus and step up vigilance in the future.

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