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  1. The city's privacy watchdog on Saturday said unauthorised activities online targeting Shangri-La Group might involve personal information of tens of thousands of guests in Hong Kong. The luxury hotel chain announced on Friday that eight of its hotels in Asia, including three in Hong Kong, had been hit by a data breach, and that it first noticed suspicious activities on its IT networks in July this year. "We immediately engaged cyber forensic experts to investigate and contain the issue. The investigation revealed that between May and July 2022, a sophisticated threat actor managed to bypass Shangri-La's IT security monitoring systems undetected, and illegally accessed the guest databases," Shangri-La Group said. The affected hotels included the Island Shangri-La, Kerry Hotel and the Kowloon Shangri-La in Hong Kong, as well as other hotels in Singapore, Chiang Mai, Taipei, and Tokyo. The group said the databases contained some combinations of guest names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and postal addresses, among other information. "Certain data files were found to have been exfiltrated from these databases but the investigation has not been able to verify the content of these files...Personal information such as dates of birth, identity and passport numbers, and credit card details, was encrypted. There is no indication that any guest data has been misused," it said. The hotel chain also said the incident had not impacted its operations and steps had been taken to further strengthen the security measures of its IT networks, adding that it had notified authorities and affected guests. In response, the city's privacy watchdog said it had been notified of the incident by Shangri-La Group on Thursday evening. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said the breach might involve personal information of over 290,000 Hong Kong guests, adding that it has launched a compliance check. It also said it was disappointed at Shangri-La Group for only formally informing the watchdog, and affected customers, more than two months after the hotel chain first became aware of the incident.
  2. Health authorities reported 3,907 new Covid infections on Saturday, 226 of which were imported. Six more people with Covid have died. Over 1,600 patients are currently receiving treatment at public hospitals, including 11 under intensive care. ______________________________ USEFUL LINKS General Covid-19 situation: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/ Community Clinics for Covid-19 patients: https://bit.ly/3a4BZFE RAT reporting platform: https://www.chp.gov.hk/ratp/ Vaccination programme: https://www.covidvaccine.gov.hk/sen/ Vaccination pass scheme: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/vaccine-pass.html Hotline for Covid-positive patients: 1836 115
  3. A travel industry representative on Saturday said she does not expect cruise ships to make a quick return to Hong Kong, after the government announced the scrapping of the suspension mechanism imposed on the industry. Speaking on an RTHK programme, Executive Director of the Travel Industry Council Fanny Yeung welcomed the move but said it would be months before any ships berthed in the SAR. "To have a cruise company move its ships back to Hong Kong, firstly, it requires a lot of preparation. The cruise line also has to see which vessels can be brought back. As for when cruise ships can return to Hong Kong, we are not too optimistic. We hope this would happen on or before the second quarter of next year," Yeung said. She also said the tourism industry had yet to recover, even after the government replaced hotel quarantine with three days of medical surveillance for arrivals. Yeung believes the so-called "zero plus three" policy was mainly for Hongkongers hoping to return to the territory, adding that she did not see the arrangement bringing in many tourists and business travellers. Speaking on the same programme, Timothy Chui of the Hong Kong Tourism Association said the hotel industry had been affected by the measure for inbound travellers. "Now that we have finished our work as quarantine hotels and returned to business to serve local residents and long-term tenants, the staycation market is very competitive. Add this to people wanting to travel overseas and it is really difficult for hotels," he said. He also suggested that hotels could be used for "reserve quarantine", where people travelling from Hong Kong to the mainland can isolate in the SAR first before crossing the border under a closed-loop arrangement.
  4. Around 6.36 million Hongkongers received the most recent instalment of the government's electronic consumption vouchers on Saturday. Those using Octopus cards for their vouchers are getting HK$2,000 on Saturday, with a further HK$1,000 being paid out on December 16 at the earliest, depending on their spending. People who opted for AlipayHK, BoC Pay, PayMe, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK are getting HK$3,000 on Saturday. The sum must be spent by the end of February. Financial Secretary Paul Chan earlier said he expected the new round of consumption vouchers would result in over HK$15 billion of spending. The vouchers, which were brought in to boost the economy hit by the Covid pandemic, can be used in most shops and restaurants as well as for a broad range of services.
  5. Chief Executive John Lee on Saturday thanked Beijing for always supporting Hong Kong, saying the SAR had countless advantages and he was confident about its prospects. Speaking at a reception to celebrate National Day, John Lee said One Country, Two Systems had provided the best institutional safeguard for the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. He said the principle had helped the city attain marvellous achievements and overcome challenges over the past 25 years. "Indeed, we always have our motherland's strong backing in matters ranging from opening up opportunities to overcoming difficulties," he said, referring to Beijing's move to introduce the National Security Law and change the electoral system. The CE also said the central government had helped the city combat the pandemic earlier in the year. "The central government gave us full support by swiftly sending expert delegations and medical support teams to Hong Kong, delivering urgent supplies via rail and water, constructing a community isolation facility in seven days, and much more, putting the epidemic situation under control," he said. "We will never forget the 'Chinese speed', reflecting the caring of Chinese people for compatriots and their eagerness to protect Hong Kong." Lee said the SAR government would not take a hands-off approach when dealing with Covid but would allow the maximum level of economic activity, providing risks were controllable. He said he was confident about the city's prospects, adding that Hong Kong had countless advantages as the world's freest economy and an international financial and trade centre.
  6. A taxi driver has died after losing control of his vehicle in Wong Tai Sin on Saturday evening. Police say the 57-year-old appears to have collapsed while driving his taxi along Lung Cheung Road. As he approached a slip road at around 11 pm, the taxi suddenly rammed into barriers and then a slope. The man was declared dead about an hour later, after being rushed unconscious to Caritas Medical Centre. Police are appealing for witnesses.
  7. Foreign domestic helpers signing new contracts will get a HK$100 pay rise starting October 1. The monthly pay floor is to be raised from HK$4,630 to HK$4,730 – an increase of 2.2 percent. The monthly food allowance for helpers will also increase by HK$23, to no less than HK$1,196. Employers can opt to pay their helpers the allowance if they don't provide them with free food. The government said a number of factors were considered before it decided on the pay rise. "We have carefully considered Hong Kong's general economic and labour market conditions over the past year, as well as Hong Kong's near-term economic outlook, including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in this year's review," a spokesman said. "Taking into account the above, affordability for employers and the livelihood of foreign domestic helpers, the government has decided to adjust the minimum allowable wage level." The spokesperson added that contracts signed on September 30 or before at the pre-adjusted level will still be processed – provided they reach the Immigration Department within the next four weeks. Sringatin, a spokesperson for the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, said while the increase is welcome, helpers actually need more money to stay afloat in Hong Kong. "Increasing HK$100 after a three-year freeze, is insulting the value of the work of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong," she told RTHK. "If we compare with the consumption, the price hike, everything's increased–we cannot cope with [a HK$100 increase]." She said her group demands a pay rise of nearly HK$1,400 to HK$6,014. _____________________________ Last updated: 2022-09-30 HKT 19:55
  8. Representatives of the catering sector said they welcome the government’s decision to relax some social distancing restrictions, saying being able to host bigger banquets will boost their business considerably. Starting Thursday, banquets of up to 240 people – double the current capacity – will be allowed. Restaurants can also seat 12 instead of eight diners at a table. Simon Wong, who chairs the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants, says Chinese restaurants are expecting at least a 30 percent jump in business. "Normally from October to the end of the year, we have a lot of banquet business. And before, because of the social distancing measures and other restrictions we were not able to do big banquets. But now the measures have been relaxed and we anticipate that the business will recover very soon," he said. Catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung, meanwhile, said while restaurants are expecting to fare better, there's room for the government to further ease Covid curbs for the catering industry, noting that the rapid test requirement at bars and nightclubs may still affect their business. The legislator also urged the government to allow these venues to resume live performances, as long as the musicians wear a mask.
  9. Hong Kong is set to ease more social distancing measures from next Thursday, which will chiefly benefit restaurants and bars. From October 6, the cap on the number of restaurant diners at each table will increase from the current eight to 12. The 12-person rule will also apply to premises like party rooms and karaoke lounges. Bars, pubs and nightclubs, meanwhile, will be able to serve up to six people per table from the current four, while the number of people attending banquets can go up from 120 to 240. However, diners in groups of more than 12 and those going to bars will still have to present a negative rapid antigen test result upon entry. Authorities also announced the scrapping of the suspension mechanism imposed on the cruise industry, which forces their ships to return to port if a suspected Covid infection is detected on board. The announcement on Friday came as Hong Kong reported 4,023 new coronavirus infections, including 213 imported cases. Eight more patients with Covid have passed away. Speaking at a press briefing, Under Secretary for Health Libby Lee said further easing has to be conducted gradually to avoid a rebound in cases. But she revealed that authorities are already looking into doing away with more Covid rules, such as the outdoor mask-wearing order. "We would like to review this and hopefully it can be, at some stages, relaxed as well, if the whole condition in Hong Kong is actually under control. This is actually on our list," Lee said. "Hopefully we can review all the measures, and then in a paced way, we can actually relax one by one." Separately, the Hospital Authority said in view of the stabilising pandemic situation, more beds initially reserved for coronavirus patients will cater for non-Covid patients instead, and the treatment centre at the AsiaWorld-Expo will return to standby mode. Around 80 percent of non-emergency services have now been resumed, the authority added.
  10. A study has found that Hong Kong's army of food delivery drivers are still facing a range of difficulties, including unpredictable earnings and harsh assessments, almost a year after some went on strike in a bid to improve conditions. Researchers from Lingnan University and the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Workers-Kowloon surveyed more than a hundred delivery workers between March and May and interviewed around three dozen drivers about their working conditions. They found that many of the workers had little or no knowledge of what was in the contracts they had signed and almost half of them had no insurance. The researchers also said companies were constantly changing their service fee evaluation systems without consulting staff and it is extremely difficult for workers to appeal in cases of dispute. It was cuts to delivery fees that sparked a strike by Foodpanda workers last November, disrupting the firm's services in parts of the city before an agreement was eventually reached. "We are really hoping that the government could step up their regulatory measures on these companies and keep on regular checking to monitor the behaviour of these companies, especially when they constantly change their system to their own self-interest at the expense of the rights of the workers,” said Professor Lisa Leung, from the university's department of cultural studies. The researchers also noted that a lot of the delivery drivers they spoke to are of South Asian origin and said about half reported being the victim of racism while working, including verbal abuse that left them feeling belittled and humiliated. One delivery worker said the discrimination was more evident during peaks in the pandemic. “I was delivering this order to one building, and then there is a family...wife and a husband with their two kids. As soon as they saw me, he shouted at their children 'get away, get away, there’s disease coming, he’s dirty.' I felt very sad then," the man said. The researchers called on the government to educate the public on racial/ethno-sensitivity and to acknowledge the contributions ethnic minority residents make towards the economy and society.

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