Financial institutions

‘Financial institutions are losing patience’ with Hong Kong, admits Lam

Thursday 17 March 2022 8:42 am

People stand in front of an electronic display showing the Hang Seng Index in the Central district of Hong Kong (ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP) (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Hong Kong’s leader has admitted today that the city’s controversial ‘Zero-Covid’ restrictions are blocking out businesses and wearing down its residents.

Carrie Lam has since been forced to reconsider the financial hub’s tough Covid-19 restrictions, while case numbers remain high – but are thought to have peaked.

“The time has come” to review the measures, which prompted the US to warn against traveling to the city for fear of child separations earlier this month, Lam told a daily press conference on Thursday.

“Not because the number of cases has come down… but I have a very strong feeling that people’s tolerance are fading,” Lam added. “Some of our financial institutions are losing patience about this sort of isolated status of Hong Kong.”

Lam declined to point to when restrictions could be eased, saying “the most difficult part of fighting the virus is that we cannot fully predict what’s going to happen.”

Some 300 medics arrived in the city earlier yesterday, a second tranche of extra support from the mainland, as temporary morgues have been installed across the city – which is said to have the highest death rate from the virus in the world.

While JPMorgan and Bank of America have been working on relocation plans, according to a Financial Times report last week, HSBC has continued to double down on its Asia pivot.

Financial institutions have hinted at the difficulty of flight bans and looming lockdowns since Hong Kong’s fifth wave swept the city late last year, citing difficult hiring environments.

The city of 7.4m yesterday reported 29,272 new infections and recorded 217 deaths.