Hong Kong has dropped its mandatory mask mandate, signaling an end to the tough COVID-19 restrictions that disrupted the city's economy and ravaged its tourism industry.

As of Wednesday, residents and visitors are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, although some exceptions were maintained, such as in hospitals and health care facilities for the elderly.

Authorities in Hong Kong have enforced one of the longest — and strictest — mask mandates since COVID-19 emerged, making them compulsory in public places for more than 940 days. Anyone caught breaking the mandate faced on-the-spot fines of $5,000 Hong Kong dollars (around ¥87,000). At one point, residents were even told to wear masks while exercising outside.