🌊Virgin leaves Hong Kong bare
HT highlights from ReThink Day 1
Wonderful first day at ReThink - met long time fan Mary Devereux (she’s put her cats on Tide before!) and caught up with some of our Leaders of the Week from before - Carla from CHOMP, Sunny from Islandlife and of course the man himself, Chris Brown! (who, ok I didn’t actually talk to yet, but I saw his opening speech).
Occasional columnist Beth and I tried to build a sustainable city in a new educational, interactive real-life sim city thing by Rooftop Republic. It didn’t go well. We should stick to writing.
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On Today’s Tide
Travel | Virgin Atlantic cuts HK-London route, closes HK office
Gov waives doc fees for people with voided COVID exemptions
Doreen Kong challenges decision to void COVID certs
Crime | Police launch anti-scam search engine
Behind the paywall:
Society | Historic ice factory on thin ice from housing development
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Virgin Atlantic leaves Hong Kong
Virgin Atlantic will cut the Hong Kong - London flight from March 2023, and close their Hong Kong office, according to a statement on their website.
The statement cites primarily “significant operational complexities due to the ongoing Russian airspace closure” and says that all who have a purchased flights post March 2023 are entitled to a refund or reschedule.
However, they specifically mention that the Hong Kong - London flight has not operated since December 2021. In fact no Virgin Atlantic passenger flights have operated since Demember 2021. That was when Hong Kong banned all flights to the UK due to COVID; Russia did not invade Ukraine till Feb 2022.
In an industry memo, Virgin Atlantic added that the route was no longer financially profitable: “We’re constantly reviewing the performance of our network and as part of our long term strategy of being sustainably profitable. We’re committed to only flying profitable routes”.
And according to analysis from aviation news outlet ‘simply flying’, Virgin Atlantic’s route was losing money even before all this kicked off. Compared to British Airlines and Cathay Pacific which still run the route, Virgin doesn’t have as many long-haul planes which would be required for the additional time spent circumventing Russian airspace. In addition, they don’t have as many code-sharing partners (when you can be on a Virgin flight but on a non-Virgin plane).
COVID in Hong Kong
COVID-19 in Hong Kong
New cases: 3642 (324 imported)
Total cases: 1,783,337
New deaths: 10
Total deaths: 10,194
Compulsory Testing locations: 62
To ban or not to ban exemption certs and what to do after
On 29 Sept, the government annuled over 20,000 COVID vaccine exemption certificates from seven doctors who were found to be selling exemption certificates, or in any case, not carrying out proper medical consulatations before giving them to patients.
Lawmaker Doreen Kong spoke out on Commercial Radio yesterday about this situation saying that the certificates were properly registered with the vaccine pass regulations, and that it was not legally clear under what circumstances the CHP could refuse to recognise a certificate. She said that the government could not simply use ‘reasonable doubt’ as an excuse due to the large legal ramifications.
Although the government had said the certificates weren’t exactly ‘annulled’ but rather just not recognised as valid, Kong asked what the real difference is as people with the passes can’t use them either way. Instead, she said the government should be looking at each pass and seeing whether they fulfilled the legal criteria for exemption.
Which would probably take a lot of time and using a one-size fits all annul 20k would be easier.
Need a refresher on the annuled exemptions? Check our previous Tide on it!
Gov support for the affected
To give credit where it’s due, the government has given extra support to those affected by the annulment.
Any individual holding a certificate no longer recognised by vaccine pass may go to any Hospital Authority doctor for a proper medical consulation on whether they can take the vaccine.
Priority same-day appointments will be given where possible and the $50 consulation fee will be waived.
If deemed legible for the vaccine, they must then get vaccinated ASAP to keep their vaccine pass running.
Scameter for anti-scam
The Police’s Cybercrime department launched the ‘Scameter’ yesterday which is, confusingly, an anti-scam search engine.
When faced with a possible scam - such as a fradulent call or email - the public can type in details such as name, phone number, email etc of the scammers to see whether it’s been recorded.
Red means the scam has high risk, and yellow means low risk. Purple means it hasn’t been recorded in the system.
According to the Force, there are about 20,000 scam entries logged through a combination of self reporting and inclusion of information from police reports.
I punched in a couple of scam emails I got (and some telemarketing numbers) and it all came back purple and with a very techy error code which would surely be confusing to it’s main target audience - people who aren’t very good at tech.
This comes during an increase in cybercrimes, exasperated by COVID regulations as many have lost money through scammers pretending to be health authorities.
Just a few days ago, a 62 year old professor was scammed out of several million trying to clear his name for a combination of fake financial fraud and alleged COVID rule breaking.
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