Government Secretary of Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu Chee announced on December 31 that anyone who hasn’t received at least one vaccination dose will be prohibited from entering restaurants, cinemas, libraries, gyms, cinemas, beauty salons and other regulated premises ahead of the Lunar New Year. The new measures are part of efforts to combat a potential fifth Covid-19 wave in Hong Kong, following the confirmation of its first two local Omicron cases on the same day.
The authorities plan to expand the vaccine bubble arrangement to have more venues require at least one Covid-19 dose and the use of the LeaveHomeSafe app in anticipation of large gatherings for New Year celebrations. Currently, rules of the vaccine bubble apply to restaurants, bars, clubs, bathhouses and karaoke venues.
Meanwhile, hoax messages were doing the rounds on social media today stating that the government will implement several strict policy changes to combat community spread of the Omicron variant, effective midnight January 4. The rumoured measures included takeaway-only restrictions on restaurants after 6pm, closure of public recreational and entertainment venues on January 14, and early closures of malls and supermarkets.
The government issued a statement in the afternoon denying that any of these strict measures would be enforced. The press release also refuted rumours spreading online that Hong Kong would be placed under a lockdown, barring people from leaving or entering the city.
Update (4 Jan 2022): Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced that the expansion of the “vaccine bubble” scheme will begin on February 24, with staff at schools and government buildings being the first group to be required to have at least one jab. Whether or not the one-dose requirement will extend to all people, not just staff, is yet to be decided.
Update (5 Jan 2022): The government confirmed that staff and people entering schools and cultural and leisure venues like libraries will be required to have at least one vaccine dose by February 24. CE Carrie Lam says the details of the requirement are still being finalized (e.g. whether or not all students will be exempted).
Header image credits: Hidam oRpoa, CC BY-SA 4.0