Hong Kong Finance Chief Expects Turnaround to Take Six Months

(Bloomberg) --

Hong Kong could take six months to reverse the economic effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said, adding that the government will offer “comprehensive” aid to protect businesses and jobs across all industries as the outbreak’s impact spreads through the economy.

The retail and tourism sectors were initially among the hardest hit by the pandemic but the effects have now spread to “virtually all industries,” Chan wrote in his blog Sunday. He called on landlords and big developers to take on more “social responsibility” by responding to public demands to reduce rents, the main overhead for many companies.

Individuals and businesses should make the necessary arrangements to ensure they can endure the next six months, Chan said.

The financial secretary did not provide further details of the government’s next round of relief measures. He said Hong Kong companies’ American and European partners were canceling orders or falling behind on payments, hurting businesses in the city. The government will look for ways to relieve pressure on firms burdened with salary payments while their sources of revenue are at risk, according to Chan.

In a separate statement Sunday, Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung wrote in his blog that the government is working to free up more quarantine space as the number of Covid-19 cases keeps climbing.

About 120 police officers may need to go into quarantine after a 46-year-old policeman in their unit was confirmed to be infected with the virus. Emergency services would not be affected, police said in an email.

The Centre for Health Protection reported new 28 cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the total tally in Hong Kong to 890.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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