Hong Kong man gets 3 months in jail for breaching coronavirus quarantine rules

People wearing face masks walk on a downtown street in Hong Kong.
People wearing face masks walk on a downtown street in Hong Kong.

Three men who breached Hong Kong’s quarantine rules were sentenced to up to three months in jail Monday in the first such convictions since the Chinese territory imposed a series of restrictions last month to curb the spread of coronavirus.
One of the men, who’s apparently homeless, admitted to giving a false residential address when he returned from mainland China on March 8, authorities said.
The 31-year-old defendant was caught at a border control point two days later trying to leave for the mainland, breaching his mandatory 14-day quarantine, according to The South China Morning Post. He was sentenced Monday to three months in jail.
The other men, who had also been under a mandatory 14-day quarantine, left isolation “without reasonable excuse” and were stopped at border control points, the city’s local government said in a news release. One of them, who’s 37, was sentenced to 10 days behind bars while the other, who’s 41, received a six-week jail sentence.
“The sentences send a clear message to the community that breaching quarantine orders is a criminal offence and that the Government will not tolerate such actions,” authorities wrote in the news release. “The Government reiterates that compliance with quarantine orders is of paramount importance in Hong Kong's fight against COVID-19.”
The semi-autonomous territory has reported more than 600 coronavirus infections and four deaths.
On March 19, Hong Kong’s government expanded its quarantine rules to include any foreigner coming from any country or territory, not just mainland China, Taiwan and Macao.
Anyone who’s convicted of breaching quarantine is subject to up to six months behind bars and a fine of $25,000.
“The Government strongly urges members of the public to be self-disciplined and abide by the law,” officials said in a separate statement Monday. “For the sake of themselves as well as other people, they should go out less, avoid social activities such as meal gatherings or other gatherings as well as properly maintain social distancing as far as possible, with an aim to cutting the virus transmission chain.”

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