2. can searches be conducted?
3. Certificates of good standing – if and how these are being conducted
4. Other searches – how are these being conducted?
5. Court positioN
With the recent stabilisation of the public health situation, starting from 15 September 2020, court business and proceedings has been fully resumed in an incremental and orderly manner as far as possible, and the number of counters of the Hong Kong (HK) judiciary has resumed normalcy.
Normal operating hours of the registries and accounts offices, i.e. from 8:45am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5:30pm (Monday to Friday, except public holidays) have resumed from 28 September. New jury proceedings and death inquests involving juries has gradually resumed normalcy from late September.
Appropriate social distancing and crowd management measures will be maintained to ensure that the courts can continue to carry on business as safely as circumstances permit.
6. travel restrictions – updated
As of 11am (HK time) on 20 October, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in HK is 5,257, with 132 newly confirmed cases reported in the past 14 days.
On 6 April, the HK government (the “Government“) announced that it will extend the entry restriction implemented on 25 March on non-HK residents, and quarantine and airport transit measures, until further notice. All non-HK residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to HK, while non-HK residents coming from the Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan will be denied entry if they have been to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days. Since 19 March, travellers from any overseas country or territory are subject to 14-day compulsory home quarantine, regardless of whether they are HK residents. Starting on 22 April, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the HK International Airport must wait for COVID-19 test results at a designated location. From 1 June, air transit services at HK International Airport has resumed in phases.
On 18 May, the Government announced exemption to certain groups of people, including certified public accountants, partners, directors or employees of practice units registered with the HK Institute of Certified Public Accountants, who are required to travel to the Mainland China to conduct audit work for companies listed on a recognized stock market and having operations in Mainland China. Such persons may apply for an exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement, but must only travel to and stay in the area or city of Mainland China where the professional services are provided, and will be subject to medical surveillance arranged by the Department of Health for a period of 14 days after returning to HK. On 22 May, application for such exemption is also open to up to two directors, at any specified time period, of companies either listed on, or applying for listing on, the HK Stock Exchange who are on duty travel between Mainland China and HK and satisfy certain eligibility criteria. On 8 June, the Government announced that such HK-listed or -to be listed companies should be included in the Hang Seng Index, Hang Seng China Enterprises Index or Hang Seng Composite LargeCap, MidCap or SmallCap Index, and such work may include, for example, attending shareholders’ meeting and regulatory hearings.
On 15 June, the Government announced the mechanism for qualified legal practitioners who travel from Mainland China, Macau or Taiwan to HK to provide legal services that require on-site physical presence in relation to important and large-scale commercial transactions to apply for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement.
On 13 July, the HK Chief Executive announced that inbound visitors, who have traveled to high-risk areas during the past 14 days, should test negative for COVID-19 before being able to board flights to HK. On 18 July, the Government announced that with effect from 25 July, any traveller who, on the day which he/she board a civil aviation aircraft that arrives at or is about to arrive in HK, or during the 14 days before that day, has stayed in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and South Africa, must provide documents showing they tested negative for COVID-19 and his/her room reservation in a hotel in HK.
The Government is also discussing with Mainland China and Macau authorities about mutual recognition of COVID-19 testing results conducted by recognised medical laboratories to exempt the quarantine requirement for HK travellers to those places, and actively working with Guangdong and Macau on introducing a health code which would allow more people to travel again. On 29 September 2020, the Government said they are working hard on ways to fulfil the aspirations of certain HK people living on Mainland China to return to HK without being subject to the 14-day mandatory quarantine arrangement.
On 8 September, HK Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development said the Government has approached 11 countries to discuss setting up travel bubbles and relax travel restrictions.
With effect from 26 October France and Russia will be added to the list of “specified places” (currently being Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America). Travellers who have stayed in any specified place during the 14 days and boarded a civil aviation aircraft that arrives at Hong Kong must take a nucleic test for COVID-19 with a negative result within 72 hours before boarding a flight to Hong Kong. They must also book a hotel for at least 14 days to complete quarantine.
7. Other Temporary Regulatory Measures – updated
Group gatherings of more than four people in public places remains prohibited and the mask-wearing requirement in public places and on public transport carriers is still in effect.
With effect from 2 October, team sports at sports premises will be allowed with more than four participants depending on the particular activities, and religious gatherings at premises constructed or regularly used as a place of worship (including a church, monastery, nunnery, mosque, synagogue and temple) will be permitted, provided that the number of participants is restricted to not more than 50% of the number of people normally accommodated on the premises and no food or drink can be served except when used for religious rites.
Several social distancing measures will be relaxed on 23 October, including lifting the restrictions on the maximum number of people in a room or partitioned area at a meeting held in accordance with any ordinance or other regulatory instrument that governs an organisation’s operation or its business (including a listed company’s shareholders’ meeting), as well as the number of people allowed at wedding ceremonies, at which no food or drink is served, from 20 to 50. Other social distancing measures currently in force will largely be maintained for until 30 October.
Starting from 15 September, the HK Companies Registry has resumed normal services while continuing to implement targeted measures to reduce social contact and to apply infection control measures.
As of 21 October, there have not been changes to BVI VIRGGIN’s services offered to HK based users. Users may continue using services such as reserving company names, requesting for certificates of good standing and conducting company searches. The Asia Representative Office of the BVI Financial Services Commission has reopened from 2 September. In-office processing of transactions continues daily from 10:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. Until further notice, the HK Office will continue to make arrangements for the delivery of certificates to agents via courier.