Ban on Trailwalker comes as a shock: Oxfam HK

Oxfam Hong Kong on Friday questioned the government’s decision to deny permission for its annual trekking event citing coronavirus risks.

More than 4,000 people had signed up for the fundraising event, Trailwalker. They were scheduled to complete the 100-kilometre route on the MacLehose Trail within 48 hours from November 19 to 21.

But the event would not go ahead after the government rejected an application from the charity group for an exemption under the group-gathering ban.

The government said the organiser would not be able to separate those taking part from other hikers on the trail over the three-day period, leaving a potential risk for the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, a fundraising manager of Oxfam, Brenda Wong, said the government’s decision came as a shock to them.

“We thought we could get the exemption as we’d promised to implement a series of infection-control measures. The event was scheduled to start on a Friday. Most people would have been working. We drastically reduced the number of participants and limited the chance of them mixing with other hikers,” she said.

“The biggest question is… we have had zero Covid cases in the community for such a long time… Is the infection risk really that high?” Wong asked.

Speaking on the same programme, an infectious disease specialist, Dr Joseph Tsang, questioned why the Oxfam Trailwalker didn’t get the green light whereas the Hong Kong Marathon went ahead as scheduled.

“The event would be held at the countryside. If all the participants have been fully vaccinated and tested negative for Covid, I think the risk is relatively low,” he said.