HK mulls relaxation of social distancing after Lunar NY holiday


Hong Kong is considering easing some social distancing measures to allow people’s lives return to normalcy after the Lunar New Year holiday on condition that there is no major change in the pandemic situation, an official said on Sunday.

Matthew Cheung, Chief Secretary for administration of the Hong Kong government, said in a weekly online article that some restrictions imposed on entertainment venues and eateries could be eased from Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.

The government is cautiously optimistic, Cheung said.

Places including gyms, beauty parlours, museums and cinemas will be able to resume limited operation, and restaurants will be allowed to extend dine-in services to 10 p.m. with the cap on diners per table raised from two to four.

Meanwhile, additional anti-epidemic measures will be placed in those places, including virus tests for their staff every two weeks and customers required to use the LeaveHomeSafe app or register personal information to get in.

The government also plans to allow group gatherings of no more than four people, relaxed from two currently, and resume in-person learning in schools and kindergartens with limited school time and scale.

Despite the epidemic has begun to ease, Cheung called on residents to keep their guard up and stick to protective measures from wearing masks to reducing group gatherings as the battle against Covid-19 has not ended.

Cheung also said Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority is working to put into operation the newly-built temporary Covid-19 hospital aided by the central government by the end of this month, which is able to add 816 negative pressure beds to the medical system.

Besides, the government is preparing for the mass inoculation of the Covid-19 vaccine and aimed at giving free doses to most Hong Kong residents this year, the Chief Secretary added.

As of Sunday, Hong Kong’s coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 10,767 and 193, respectively.