10月26日，樂施會接獲政府書面通知，由於樂施毅行者Oxfam Trailwalker Hong Kong位處麥理浩徑，難以完全阻隔公眾及參加者互相接觸的機會，加上當中涉及4600名參加者及工作人員、連續3日橫跨數個區域進行，政府認為當中仍存有潛在傳播疫情風險。過去數月，我們已應當局要求及反饋，更新活動申請書中之防疫細節，且未有收到明確反對通知。然而，活動舉辦三星期前突然知悉今年樂施毅行者之「豁免羣組聚集」申請最終不獲批准，活動未能如以往般以連續三天的實體形式舉行，我們對此感到極為失望和無奈！
【Oxfam Trailwalker 2021: Special Announcement】
On 26 October, Oxfam Hong Kong (OHK) received written notice from the government noting that its application for an exemption to the prohibition on group gatherings for the Oxfam Trailwalker (OTW) was not approved. Although we continued to respond to requests for details about preventive measures over the past few months and had not received any indication that our application would be rejected, it was unexpectedly and ultimately not approved three weeks before the event. The government noted that given the scale of the event, OHK would not be able to separate the 4,600 people involved in the event from other hikers on the trail over the three-day period, thus leaving a potential risk for the spread of the virus. We are extremely disappointed and saddened that we are unable to hold an in-person event this year.
Like all of you, we have done our utmost to prepare for the event for the better part of this year. We have worked closely with government departments since the middle of this year, and have continually revised the preventive measures in our application at the government’s request. Our preventive measures included drastically reducing the number of teams, discouraging the involvement of support teams, offering participants with a greater variety of individually wrapped food at checkpoints, and requiring participants to be fully vaccinated and to submit negative test reports 48 hours before the event to meet COVID requirements.
Although large-scale in-person sports events that do not offer food have been held recently and have been exempted by the government, the OTW differs from these/other trail and road running events. The OTW takes place over 48 hours along the MacLehose Trail, which is open to the public. Further, participants will consume food and drink along the 100 km trail from Sai Kung to Yuen Long, and over 4,000 people are involved in the event. As such, there may be an increased risk of the spread of COVID-19.
Despite this, we remain hopeful and are proactively working on the launch of our backup plan. We have tentatively scheduled an alternative version of the OTW for 22 November to 12 December, and are awaiting approval from government departments. We hope participants will join this event and continue to persevere with us. Teams that have submitted their application fee, registration fee and donations will have the option of obtaining a refund. Further details will be announced within the next few days.
As always, we remain committed to pressing ahead with you and hope to see you on the trail soon.