Some of Hong Kong’s social distancing measures regarding seating limits at restaurants, bars, pubs, and banquets will be relaxed next week, said Undersecretary for Health Dr Libby Lee. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Dr Lee said that starting October 6, 12 diners can sit together at restaurants, six customers can sit at the same table at pubs and clubs, and 240 people can attend banquets.
However, groups of more than 12 diners at restaurants and patrons of nightlife venues such as bars, pubs, and nightclubs will still have to present a negative rapid antigen test result taken within 24 hours of entry to these premises.
The 12-person limit will also apply to venues such as gyms conducting group activities and yoga classes, in addition to party rooms and karaoke lounges. Cruises will also resume on October 6, after being banned due to the Omicron-fuelled fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the city.
When asked if other social distancing measures, such as the outdoor mask mandate, would also be relaxed, Dr Lee said, “We will like to review this and hopefully at some stage it can be relaxed as well if the whole [Covid-19] condition in Hong Kong is under control. This is actually on our list and hopefully we can review all the measures and then, in a paced way, we can actually relax [them] one by one.”
The latest measures come after the Hong Kong government scrapped the mandatory hotel quarantine requirement for all inbound travellers, and replaced it with a three-day medical surveillance period. Under this arrangement, travellers must undergo a PCR test upon arrival at the airport and will be issued a health code based on their results.
Travellers who test negative for the virus will be given an amber code that will prevent them from going to crowded public places during their surveillance period. Those who test positive for Covid-19 will get a red code and cannot visit public places during their recovery period. On Friday, Dr Lee also clarified that overseas arrivals have the option of spending their recovery period at their hotels at their own expense or going to a community isolation facility.
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