The Hong Kong government has tightened social distancing regulations in a bid to curb the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the territory. Now that the infection numbers have decreased, the government has relaxed some of these rules, which cover a wide range of social activities, such as travel, dining out, and outdoor activities, among others. Read on to know everything that you can and can’t do under the latest measures.

Rules for travelling to and from Hong Kong

hong kong international airport empty during pandemic
Hong Kong International Airport ghostlike during Covid-19 pandemic (© Studio Incendo via Flickr)

There are no restrictions on outbound travel. As far as nearby travel goes, all Hong Kong residents can enter Macau and must undergo hotel quarantine for seven days, as well as an additional three days of self-health monitoring.

Hong Kong has recently eased travel restrictions for inbound travellers. From September 26, residents and non-residents can enter the SAR as long as they:

  • Produce a negative rapid antigen test result within 24 hours of their departure to Hong Kong.
  • Undergo a PCR test upon arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport.
  • Undergo a three-day medical surveillance period after they enter the city.
  • Take PCR tests on Days 2, 4, 6 after their arrival into Hong Kong.
  • Self-administer RATs daily for seven days after their arrival into Hong Kong.

Travellers will be issued a health code based on the results of their on-arrival PCR test. If they test negative for the virus, they will get an amber code that will prevent them from going to crowded places in the city. If they test positive for Covid-19, they will get a red code and will be allowed to stay at home/their hotels or will be transferred to a hospital or an isolation facility, depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Do I still have to wear a mask in Hong Kong?

hong kong people wearing masks
Masked up Hongkongers (© Studio Incendo via Flickr)

Yes, it is still mandatory to wear a mask in most public places in Hong Kong. Anyone over the age of two must wear a mask when they take public transport, are in a paid area of the MTR, or are present at any public place.

There are exceptions to this rule:

  • You do not have to wear a mask at country parks, while jogging or exercising outdoors, or while exercising at indoor sports venues and gyms.
  • Visitors to theme parks can take off their masks to eat and drink in outdoor spaces of these premises.
  • Anyone who wants to take a photograph at places such as restaurants, nightlife establishments, and venues where events are held may remove their masks briefly.
  • Starting November 17, visitors to performance venues and outdoor sports premises can remove their masks to eat and drink.
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Students must wear masks during class, but those who have been vaccinated can remove them for extracurricular activities such as sports and music lessons.

Can I meet people in public?

No more than 12 people may gather in public. There is an exemption for family members who live in the same household. Other exceptions include public gatherings for transportation purposes, groups performing any governmental function, groups gathering within hospital and healthcare facilities, court proceedings, and funerals and any other occasions for mourning.

Can I invite friends and family to my home?

The two-household limit on private gatherings under Cap. 599G was lifted on April 21. From that date on, Hongkongers can visit family and friends and have people over at their homes without any restrictions.

Can I enter Hong Kong International Airport if I’m not flying?

If you don’t have a ticket or boarding pass, you need to be vaccinated to enter the airport to say goodbye to friends and family, according to the requirements of the vaccine pass scheme.

Are there any restrictions on public transit?

There are no restrictions on the number of people who can take public transport, the MTR, or taxis. Public transport is also not covered by the vaccine pass scheme. The wait times on MTR trains have returned to pre-fifth wave levels, along with the services of the light rail and MTR buses.

Franchised bus companies — including Kowloon Motor Bus Company (KMB), New World First Bus and Citybus, Long Win Bus, and New Lantao Bus — have resumed the services of primary and supplementary service routes (recreational routes that only operate during weekends and overnight bus services).

Are schools open?

Kindergartens reopened in phases beginning May 3. Primary schools resumed in-person classes on May 3. Secondary schools have resumed in-person classes following the completion of DSE exams.

All teaching and non-teaching staff at schools, people who provide on-campus services, and visitors must have a valid vaccine pass to enter school campuses. This requirement does not apply to students. All teaching staff and students must also get a negative RAT result every day before entering school premises.

Can I eat at my favourite restaurants?

hong kong restaurant closed after 6pm
McDonald’s closed for dining in in January 2022 (© OMSISAOTP Tzeto8 via Wikicommons)

From October 6, a maximum of 12 diners may sit at the same table at restaurants. The seating restrictions also apply to family members within the same household. Diners must be vaccinated, unless they are exempted, and sign in using the LeaveHomeSafe app. All restaurant staff must have two doses and must undergo rapid antigen tests every three days. There are currently no more restrictions on operating hours for restaurants.

Banquets — defined as more than 12 persons who dine together at a catering premises — can be held as long as there are no more than 240 guests. Diners planning to attend a banquet must produce proof of a negative RAT result taken within the past 24 hours before they can enter a restaurant or a banquet premises. A negative PCR test result received within 48 hours prior to entering these venues can also be used. Hong Kong residents and visitors who have amber health codes cannot enter restaurants and other catering premises until their vaccine pass QR code reverts to blue.

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How about the nightlife scene in Hong Kong?

All bars, nightclubs, karaoke, and party rooms reopened on May 19, the beginning of the second phase of rule relaxation. They operate under the vaccine pass arrangement.

Patrons of bars, pubs, clubs, and nightclubs must show a negative RAT result from the last 24 hours for entry. A negative RAT result is also required to enter the bar or pub zone of restaurants. Nightlife venues can seat no more than six at a table and operate at 75% capacity. The ban on live performances and dancing ended on October 20, but all performers must get PCR tests done twice a week, and undergo a RAT on the day of their shows. There are no longer any restrictions on the opening hours of Hong Kong’s nightlife venues.

Hong Kong residents and visitors who have amber health codes cannot enter nightlight establishments until their vaccine pass QR code turns blue.

Can I take my kids to a theme park or public playground?

Theme parks, game centres, gaming arcades, public playgrounds, and playrooms reopened on April 21. Anyone over the age of five needs a valid vaccine pass to enter these premises. Visitors to theme parks can eat and drink in outdoor spaces at these premises.

Can I go for a swim at a pool or a beach?

Government-managed beaches reopened starting May 5. Swimming pools reopened between May 12 and 16.

Can I go camping or have a barbecue in a public place?

All campsites and barbecue pits managed by the government remain closed. Members of the public are not allowed to camp or have barbecues in country parks. All government-run barbecue pits have reopened, and campsites will resume services from November 17.

Can I watch a movie in a theatre?

Movie theatres currently operate at 85% capacity. Moviegoers must have a valid vaccine pass, use the LeaveHomeSafe app to enter a theatre, and wear masks unless they’re eating or drinking. Moviegoers can eat and drink in a theatre as long as patrons and staff have received three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, unless they have recently recovered from the virus or are exempt for medical reasons. Remember that if you have an amber health code, you can’t enter a theatre until your vaccine pass QR code turns blue again.

Can I watch a concert or a play?

With the exception of Tai Po Civic Centre, Sheung Wan Civic Centre, and Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre, all government-run cultural performance venues such as concert halls, theatres, auditoria, cultural activiy halls, and arenas reopened to the public starting April 21. Vaccine passes are usually checked at the entrance, so you’ll need to ensure yours is valid if you want to enter these premises.

Can I get a haircut or manicure?

Hair salons and barber shops have been open since March 10 and beauty parlours reopened on April 21. You must have a valid vaccine pass to enter these places.

Can I get a spa treatment?

All massage establishments and spas reopened on April 21, but saunas are still closed.

Where can I work out?

All fitness centres and studios and gyms recommenced services on April 21. Government-run indoor sports facilities such as sports centres, squash centres or stand-alone squash centres, table tennis centres, badminton centres, the Hong Kong Velodrome, and the sports facilities of the Queen Elizabeth Stadium have also be opened to the public.

Outdoor sports facilities, including sports grounds, tennis courts, bowling greens, soccer pitches, roller skating rinks, hockey grounds and archery ranges, among other venues are also open.

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Water sports centres reopened starting May 5.

Since April 16, Hongkongers have been able to use the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) app to make bookings for leisure venues or make bookings online. Bookings for more than 12 people are prohibited.

Are there restrictions on hiking?

hong kong trail direction sign
Signage for Hong Kong Trail hiking route (© Dono17 via Wikicommons)

You can go exercise in a country park without a mask on. You must observe the four-person limit on public gatherings, which includes infants in carriers and strollers.

Are there restrictions on weddings?

From April 21, people can get married at wedding venues or religious premises in accordance with regulations under the vaccine pass. Wedding banquets are also permitted as long as there are no more than 240 people in attendance.

Are there restrictions on local tours?

Local tours will resume from April 21 on comprising groups of no more than 30 people. The limit can be increased to 100 people if all participants undergo rapid antigen tests on the first day of the tour.

Can I book a hotel getaway or cruise?

Hotels are open, but they must adhere to stringent guidelines regarding the number of guests in rooms (four in a guestroom, eight in a suite) and register guest information. Staff and guests’ body temperature must be screened, rooms must be thoroughly cleaned before new guests occupy them, and there must be hand sanitisers in each room. Cruises resumed from October 6.

Can I visit a family member or friend in the hospital?

Starting August 1, all special visitors to public hospitals must test negative for Covid-19 before entering the premises, even if they have recovered from the virus. Visitors must provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of entering a hospital. They can get tested at Community Testing Centres (CTCs), mobile specimen collection stations or government-recognised testing institutions. Only test results obtained via combined nasal and throat swabs at these facilities are valid.

Members of the public who visit public hospitals to see critical or end-of-life patients may provide either a PCR test negative result obtained within 48 hours or a rapid antigen test (RAT) negative result obtained within 24 hours before the visit. Those who test negative via RAT before the visit must undergo a PCR test and then submit a negative test result two days after the visit.

If a visitor cannot test in advance because of an emergency, they may undergo a RAT and provide the result as soon as they obtain it. They must subsequently undergo a PCR test and provide a negative test result within two days after the visit.

Is there a lockdown in Hong Kong?

medical staff in lockdown area with positive covid cases
Medical staff in locked down residential area (© Studio Incendo via Flickr)

There is currently no citywide lockdown in Hong Kong. However, the government has been conducting building-specific lockdowns to test all residents where there has been at least one confirmed case with an unknown source, which can last between 12 hours and five days depending on the number of positive cases or positive sewage samples. Visit info.gov.hk for updates including buildings that have been placed under lockdown for compulsory testing.

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Header image credits: Amakuha via Wikicommons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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