The Secretary for labour and welfare, Mr Law Chi Kwong, said that under the third wave of local epidemic, the labour market deteriorated throughout the third quarter. However, as the local epidemic situation had subsided in September, the pressure on the labour market showed signs of stabilization at the end of the quarter. The employment protection scheme launched by the government could provide support.
He pointed out that as the overall economic situation remained weak and the global epidemic situation was still changing, the labor market would still be under pressure in the short term. The Hong Kong SAR government had launched the largest relief measures ever, including a series of measures to protect employment and create jobs, to help protect employees Employment.
The chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mrs Carrie Lam, told the media on October 20 that in the past week, there have been 12 local confirmed cases and no new group cases. In addition, there have been no cases of unknown origin in the past three days, which shows that the epidemic situation has eased slightly.
Cathay Pacifics layoffs push up unemployment rate
On the morning of October 21, Cathay Pacific announced that it would cut 8500 jobs as a whole, accounting for 24% of the groups 35000 employees. The scale of layoffs exceeded the previous market expectation of 6000. At the same time, Cathay Pacifics Dragonair will stop operation today.
According to Li Zhaobo, a senior lecturer at the Business School of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific has laid off 5000 people in Hong Kong, and the number of unemployed people in Hong Kong has increased to 264 000 at least. According to the unadjusted unemployment rate of 6.67% from July to September, assuming that the working population remains at 3.88 million, Cathay Pacifics layoffs will push up the unemployment rate by about 0.13 percentage points.
Xie Jiaxi, economist of the Economic Research Department of DBS Bank (Hong Kong), pointed out that as customs clearance between the mainland and Hong Kong has not yet been restored, the retail industry, which accounts for 30% of the mainlands tourist consumption, will continue to be under pressure. Since last years social conflict, the local retail industry has experienced a downturn of up to one and a half years. It is expected that SMEs will close down one after another, and the unemployment rate of tourism related industries will continue to rise before the end of the year The overall unemployment rate is likely to climb to 7.2%.
Relax restrictions on local groups
Affected by the closure of the epidemic situation, Hong Kongs tourism industry has almost stopped. According to the data released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board on October 19, the preliminary number of visitors to Hong Kong in September was 9132, a sharp drop of 99.7% year-on-year. In the first nine months of this year, 3.55 million people visited Hong Kong, a sharp drop of 92.4% over the same period of last year. The number of mainland visitors and non mainland visitors were 2.696 million and 855 million respectively, down 92.7% and 91.3% year on year.
On the same day, the Secretary for food and health, Mr. Chen Zhaoshi, announced on October 20 that, in view of the epidemic situation and the economy, the Executive Council adopted the amendment to chapter 599g to expand the scope of group gathering to cover the restrictions on tourism, weddings and clerical meetings. The maximum number of tour groups is 30, while the number of weddings and meetings is increased to 50. The measures will take effect on October 23. However, other social distance measures remain unchanged for the time being, such as the upper limit of 4 people per table in the restaurant.
It is understood that the itinerary of a local tour group must include the green places designated by the green life local tourism incentive scheme, or within the 50 itineraries of the enjoy Hong Kong project launched by HKTB. A number of travel agencies in Hong Kong immediately launched a number of local tours, with tour fees ranging from HK $100 to HK $400.
She said that although the average number of seven day confirmed cases in Hong Kong has gradually dropped from last weeks high level, there are still new cases of unknown origin in the past week, and there are still hidden transmission chains in the community. Under the new normal, Hong Kong cant take zero diagnosis as the goal for a long time, but before there is an effective vaccine, it needs to coexist with the virus for a long time. Sporadic cases in the community cant be avoided and social interaction can be adjusted Distance measures also need to avoid a one size fits all approach.