Visiting businessman jailed for 1 month for breaking quarantine

A harbor-facing room at the hotel where the defendant WAS quarantining until he decided to leg it to Shenzhen. Photo: Ovolo Hotels
A harbor-facing room at the hotel where the defendant WAS quarantining until he decided to leg it to Shenzhen. Photo: Ovolo Hotels

Ever since the government started introducing emergency COVID-19 measures, we’ve seen countless posts pop up on local Facebook groups and forums speculating on the ramifications for violating these new rules and regulations.

For example, what’s the punishment for gathering in a group of more than four people? Some say first-time offenders just get a warning, while others have been issued summons for more egregious cases.

What about operating a bar illegally during the bar ban? That’s a week (or more) in the clink, friends.

And what happens when you violate your quarantine? Well, a visiting businessman found out the hard way this morning when he was sentenced to one month in jail, SCMP reports.

Deepak Kumar, 31, flew into Hong Kong from Turkey on March 21 and was ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days at the 4-star Mojo Nomad hotel in Aberdeen. Apparently he took the order as more of a suggestion though, because he headed to the Shenzhen Bay Control Port the next day and tried to leave Hong Kong.

Spoiler alert: it did not work.

Immigration officers intercepted Kumar and sent him to a quarantine center, where he stayed for 14 days before being charged in court with one count of leaving the place of quarantine without the permission given by an authorized officer.

He pleaded guilty to the charge at the Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Court today. Acting principal magistrate Ivy Chui reduced the starting sentence of six weeks in recognition of Kumar’s guilty plea and clean record. In court, Kumar’s lawyer said the visitor was confused and took “general advice on how to go to China from the Home Affairs Department” as the go-ahead to leave the city.

Since March 19, the Hong Kong government has made it mandatory for arrivals from all countries and jurisdictions (except mainland China, Taiwan, and Macau) to self-quarantine for 14 days. On April 6, the entry restrictions were expanded to include visitors from mainland China, Taiwan, and Macau.

Those who are found guilty face six months’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of HKD25,000.

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