Officials urged to be lenient with app-for-entry rule

The Hong Kong Council of Social Service on Sunday urged officials to take a lenient approach and be empathetic when the use of the ‘LeaveHomeSafe’ app at government premises becomes mandatory.

The government said the requirement, which takes effect on Monday, is needed to enhance contact tracing.

Only children under 12, residents aged 65 or above, and people with disabilities that render use of the app genuinely difficult will be exempted from the arrangements. However, the government said they will still need to leave their contact details.

Speaking on a radio programme, the council’s chief executive Chua Hoi-wai said some residents, including the homeless and the elderly, were unable to use the app as they don’t have smartphones.

“I hope government departments will be lenient, understand people’s needs and give them alternatives like leaving their contact details, so they would not be scared off and avoid visiting clinics or the government’s social service offices,” Chua said.

He added that some NGOs are accepting donations of second-hand smartphones from the public, so they can distribute them to people who can’t afford them. They’re also teaching them how to use the LeaveHomeSafe app.

Chua said the council hoped to cooperate with the government to help grassroots residents.

Speaking on the same programme, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip acknowledged that there could be teething problems when the app requirement comes into force, and said officials would go easy on people at first.

But he warned people against using fake versions of the app or leaving incorrect contact details.