Hong Kong Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam has announced further measures to fight the SAR's fifth wave of COVID-19 infections, including plans for mass testing the city.
The Hong Kong SAR government revealed further tightening of social distancing measures as it continues to fight an uphill battle against the latest COVID-19 outbreak in the city.
In case you missed it - here's the latest set of rules, as announced on 23 February 2022.
1. Government extends current restrictions for two more months
Previously under review every two weeks, the Hong Kong government said this week current measures would stay until at least 20 April 2022. This includes the closure of scheduled premises such as bars, gyms, hair salons, sports premises, swimming pools, religious premises and more. Limits on cross family gatherings to two households will also remain.
Meanwhile, exemptions on mask-wearing while outdoors or doing exercise would be scrapped. However, under the new rules starting from 24 February 2022, all persons shall wear a mask in any public places (including country parks), whether or not they are engaging in physical activities; and taking masks off for eating and drinking will also not be allowed on public transport carriers including on ferries.
2. Limits on Dining
In-person dining has further been reduced to two people per table only during the day. A ban on in-person dining after 6pm remains.
3. Summer holidays come early for schools
Lam announced on Tuesday (22 February) that classes (including online) for kindergartens, primary, and secondary school students would be suspended until at least the Easter break in April. The last day of school for this academic year will be on 12 August 2022, before the new school year kicks off again in September.
4. Flight bans
People are currently barred from travelling to Hong Kong from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United States. This flight ban would stay in place until 20 April to prevent a surge in imported cases. Lam has shared that more countries will be added to this list if need be.
5. Mass testing
In the same press conference, Lam announced plans for a compulsory, universal COVID testing programme to commence at the beginning of March. The scheme would require each Hong Kong resident to be tested three times and aims to identify positive cases in the community.
Hundreds of testing centres will be set up around the city, the CE said, and the testing schedule will be based on people's year of birth. Non-compliance could result in prosecution.
Lam added that people would be required to do rapid tests everyday and KN95 masks would be handed out. People who test positive would be taken to isolation facilities.
The CE maintained that a full lockdown would not be feasible. "Let's not focus on lockdown. Let's focus on how we can ensure the 7.4mn people in Hong Kong will embrace this compulsory universal testing and take an active part so that it will be a successful scheme," said Lam.
Photo / HKSAR Government