Can contact tracing bring Hong Kong's MICE sector back from the brink?

Despite data privacy concerns, venues rally support for the government's 'LeaveHomeSafe' app.

More than 200,000 people have downloaded the LeaveHomeSafe app since 16 November, while more than 20,000 venues and premises have registered.
More than 200,000 people have downloaded the LeaveHomeSafe app since 16 November, while more than 20,000 venues and premises have registered.

With Hong Kong's fourth Covid-19 resulting in extended quarantines, cancelled flights and speculations rife that restrictions will stretch into the end of February — the city hopes new measures will curb the virus, including its LeaveHomeSafe mobile app, launched in November.

Secretary of Innovation & Technology, Alfred Sit, noted in a press conference that more than 200,000 people have downloaded the app since 16 November, while more than 20,000 venues and premises have registered. “We thank all trades and industries for their support to join the scheme and display the QR code at their premises”, said Sit.

Despite ongoing criticism and debate around privacy concerns of the app, the government has confirmed in a press statement that it’s a voluntary scheme that “upholds the principle of protecting personal data privacy, and user registration is not required”.

Meanwhile, even as events continue to be on hold indefinitely, venue spaces are still hopeful, preparing health and safety precautions to welcome visitors back.

Venues like HKCEC are employing the use of the LeaveHomeSafe app to help reassure event planners.
Venues like HKCEC are employing the use of the LeaveHomeSafe app to help reassure event planners.

Event and exhibition spaces across Hong Kong have implemented stringent health and safety measures throughout the months in an attempt to reduce the risk of infection within large-scale groups.

For instance, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) stepped up hygiene protocols in venue cleaning, customer care and F&B services, stricter access control since the outbreak and of course, use of the LeaveHomeSafe app.

“To provide event organisers and participants additional peace of mind, LeaveHomeSafe QR codes have been posted in various locations in the HKCEC, including main entrances, major venues as well as restaurants, so that app users can keep detail record of their visits to the centre and receive timely notifications of potential exposure”, a HKCEC spokesperson said.

“LeaveHomeSafe” v.s “TraceTogether”

Although the concept is similar, Singapore’s counterpart TraceTogether differs in that the app is powered by Bluetooth, while LeaveHomeSafe, is tracked by QR-code check-ins at venues. Both apps’ main goal is to quickly identify people who may have come in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19, based on the tracking of peoples’ locations.

There have been pilot trade shows in Singapore testing the new protocols at a larger scale, which include mandatory use of the TraceTogether app for visitors.

“We are confident that with our stringent preventive measures, coupled with the LeaveHomeSafe App, organisers and participants will be encouraged to visit the HKCEC."



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