Two former Cathay Pacific flight attendants who allegedly breached Hong Kong’s COVID-19 quarantine rules pleaded not guilty at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on August 15, 2022.
Wong Yoon-loong, 45, and Nilsson Lau, 44, arrived in Hong Kong from the US on December 24 and 25, 2021 respectively. Under Hong Kong’s COVID-19 quarantine rules, they were required to isolate themselves at home for three days, but they were allowed out to exercise or buy food, medical supplies and daily necessities, local media RTHK reported.
Wong is accused of violating quarantine rules when he left his residence the day after arriving in Hong Kong and took the subway to Lau’s residence. Lau, who only arrived in Hong Kong that day, took public transportation to pick up a package at Tuen Mun Central Plaza.
Two days later, Lau took public transportation once again to have lunch with his father and a girlfriend despite not obtaining a negative COVID-19 result. The restaurant eventually became known as the source of an Omicron outbreak at the time.
Both Wong and Lau subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. On January 17, 2022, both flight attendants were arrested for violating rules under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation.
Defending himself, Wong said he did not know he was not allowed to leave his residence in the first three days of arrival, and said he had complied with Cathay Pacific’s internal guidelines, which said they could go out to buy food and visit friends or relatives.
Lau said that the Department of Health did not explain the regulations, saying only that he needed to undergo COVID-19 testing on certain days.
The South China Morning Post reports that Lau claimed his former employer Cathay Pacific had sent an email to staff saying that flight crew were not subject to Hong Kong’s Department of Health restrictions such as eating outside, which was why he did not think he had breached the order by visiting a restaurant.
Magistrate Edward Wong Ching-yu adjourned the case until August 26, 2022 for closing submissions.
Wong and Lau each face up to six months in prison and a HK$5,000 ( $637.00) fine.