BY APB STAFF on 14 Feb 2022

The association urges the Hong Kong government to allow captains and crew on yachts

The 2021 Hong Kong Round-the-Island Race, courtesy Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club / Guy Nowell

The Hong Kong Boating Industry Association (HKBIA) has written a letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and The Food and Health Bureau of Hong Kong, requesting that captain and crew of yachts be exempted from the latest Covid restrictions, which restrict gatherings to two households in private places.

Read: The ups and downs of Covid on the Asian yacht industry

The letter, which thanks Lam and the Hong Kong government for its efforts to prevent the spread of Covid in Hong Kong, notes that workplaces are exempt from the two-household limit, and that captain and crew onboard yachts are therefore at a place of work. The letter, which readers can view in full below, is dated February 14, 2022.

In a clarification on the latest rules regarding Covid restrictions in Hong Kong, the HKBIA points out that privately-owned Class IV vessels are classified as “private spaces”, and therefore subject to group gathering regulation Cap. 599G, which limits gatherings to the members of two households. The regulation is slated to run from February 10 to February 23.

A government website notes that “certain industries might have their special operational needs and judgment will be made on a case-by-case basis.”

Class IV Charter Boats that are hired for social gatherings are classified as “Party Rooms”. Under the new Hong Kong restrictions, “premises (commonly known as party rooms) that are maintained or intended to be maintained for hire for holding social gatherings”, must suspend operation for the 14-day period.

HKBIA noted in its clarification on the new rules that offenders of the law are liable on conviction to a fine at level 4 (HK$25,000).

Hong Kong’s seven-day average of new cases has skyrocketed in the last few days to 1,081 per day. During the last wave of infections in early December 2021, the seven-day average infection rate peaked at 100 cases per day. On February 14, Hong Kong recorded a new daily record of 2,071 new cases, while around 4,500 people tested preliminary positive. Around 74% of Hong Kong residents have been double-vaccinated, compared to 90% in Singapore.

Hong Kong yacht owners have been using their boats as a way to escape lockdowns at home, and yacht ownership has risen dramatically since the onset of Covid-19, with most dealers reporting record sales.