The Hong Kong government announced on Monday that the current social distancing rules will be extended until July 13. The existing measures, which were set to expire on June 30, include various restrictions on dining and nightlife establishments, such as seating and capacity limits, a ban on live performances and dancing, and regulations regarding opening hours.
This development also means that anyone who wishes to enter a bar, club, pub or nightclub in Hong Kong must produce evidence of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) taken within 24 hours prior to entry. The measure, which was introduced earlier this month after several Covid-19 clusters linked to nightlife venues were discovered, was supposed to end on June 29.
The current social distancing restrictions will now extend into the first two weeks of John Lee Ka-chiu’s term as Chief Executive, which begins on July 1. According to a government press release, “Given that the effective period of the measures in the coming cycle will span to the next government term, having consulted the Chief Executive-elect’s Office and with its consent, the Government decided to extend the existing social distancing measures for 14 days with effect from June 30.”
The authorities made this decision because of the recent uptick in Covid-19 infections in the community after nightlife venues reopened last month as part of the second stage of easing anti-epidemic measures in Hong Kong. There has also been an increase in the number of confirmed cases in schools, which led the government to extend its daily RAT requirement for students and teaching staff until the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.
Last month, incumbent Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor confirmed that the third stage of relaxing social distancing rules in the city would not begin at the end of June as initially planned due to the increase in Covid-19 cases in the city. This stage would have seen the end of restrictions on F&B, nightlife and performance venues, group gatherings and local tours.
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