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Hong Kong is doubling down on a “COVID zero” strategy that has failed almost everywhere else, battering its economy and threatening its status as an international financial center just as much of the world learns to live with the virus.

While countries from the U.S. to Australia are winding down pandemic restrictions, Hong Kong is imposing its toughest measures since COVID-19 first emerged more than two years ago. From Thursday, gatherings of more than two people in public are banned, while no more than two households can mix in private. Violators face a fine of at least HK$5,000 (¥74,000).

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