HONG KONG, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong is expected to further relax social distancing restrictions and mulls cancelling border control measures and 14-day compulsory quarantine in phases in the near future, as its COVID-19 epidemic situation continues to stabilize, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam said.
Lam made the remarks in a Facebook post Tuesday evening, after the HKSAR government decided earlier in the day to roll out more measures to safeguard employment and creat jobs to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up over 90 percent of Hong Kong's business establishments and constitute the backbone of the society. The government has attached great importance to SMEs in relief measures to safeguard employment and support economy, as helping those enterprises survive means conserving strength for Hong Kong's economic recovery, Lam said.
Citing a government survey on recent business activities of Hong Kong's SMEs, she noted a gradual resumption of businesses after the HKSAR government started to relax social distancing restrictions in steps as the epidemic has stabilized gradually.
The survey showed that the current diffusion index on business receipts for SMEs grew to 41.9 in May from 31 in April, and catering service saw the biggest rise, doubling to 52 in May from 25.5 in April, Lam said.
She said although the current situation is encouraging, more time is needed for Hong Kong to get out of the difficulties and return to normal. The Employment Support Scheme proposed by the HKSAR government is aimed to provide timely assistance to help employers retain their employees and tide over difficulties together.
The HKSAR government has received and processed the first batch of applications from employers for wage subsidies, 98 percent of which are from SMEs, and they are estimated to receive the tranche within this week, Lam said.