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Rules for vaccinated staff relaxed

The Government today announced its decision to maintain the current social distancing measures and specified that premises' staff who have completed a COVID-19 vaccination course will not be required to undergo regular testing.   The Food & Health Bureau pointed out that the number of local confirmed cases has declined to a lower level.   However, it explained that to continue containing the spread of the disease and to strive for zero case as soon as possible, taking into account the pressure for potential rebound of the epidemic brought by earlier relaxation of social distancing measures and the frequent gatherings among the public during the long holiday, the existing social distancing measures must be maintained for two more weeks.   Noting that the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme has been smoothly implemented for a while, the bureau said some staff of the catering business premises or scheduled premises have completed the vaccination course, ie after 14 days following

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2 care fund proposals endorsed

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung chaired the third meeting of the fourth-term Commission on Poverty held online today, in which two proposals on the Community Care Fund (CCF) were endorsed.   At the meeting, members also noted the implementation progress of various assistance programmes under the fund and its financial position.   One of the endorsed proposals is to further refine the means test mechanism of the CCF Medical Assistance Programmes following the announcement in the 2020 Policy Address.   The refinements, to be rolled out in the second quarter, include modification of the calculation of annual disposable financial resources for recurrent applications and the addition of new allowable deduction items for all drug subsidy applications.   Meanwhile, the validity period of the first application's financial assessment will be extended from 12 months to 18 months if the patient contribution is not more than $2,000. Patients will make the same amount of contribution upon annual renewal of the application without the need for financial assessment.   If patients consider that there is a need for financial reassessment due to the change in financial condition of their households, they could make such a request anytime during the application period.   Additionally, the Hospital Authority will waive the requirement to submit financial documents if the patient has been referred a second application within one to two months after the first application.   The second proposal involves additional funding for the One-off Living Subsidy for Low-income Households Not Living in Public Housing & Not Receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) programme.   The commission earlier endorsed a provision of $2.56 billion under the CCF to introduce two rounds of the subsidy.   Owing to the impact of social unrest and the COVID-19 epidemic, Hong Kong's economy has been deteriorating and the unemployment and underemployment rates remain high. The number of applications for the first round of the subsidy is projected to exceed the estimate by about 20%.   The CCF secretariat estimated that the number of applications received under the second round of the subsidy would increase by 40% compared to the first round.   To cater for the projected additional beneficiary households, the commission endorsed an additional provision of $571.83 million which includes an additional funding of $34.46 million for administrative fees, bringing the total estimated expenditure for the two rounds of the subsidy to about $3.13 billion.   Members were also briefed on the proposed measures to further assist individuals and families in financial need, including the reduction of the Working Family Allowance Scheme's working hour requirements and relaxation of the Short-term Food Assistance Services Project's asset limits, both of which were on a time-limited basis.
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