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A list of nine things for all industry persons to note, especially in catering business; those organising meetings, forums, and symposiums; and the extended rules on group gatherings.

 While Hong Kong will continue to maintain most social distancing measures currently in place, the Government has introduced a new type of premises, namely "event premises", which includes infection control measures for specified events such as meetings, forums, symposiums, exhibitions, ceremonial events and celebratory events (including weddings and certain business meetings).

Guidelines for these event premises will take effect from 00.00am on 22 July, for a period of 14 days till 4 August 2021.

A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said: "We believe the arrangement can allow event organisers to be more certain about the restrictions and requirements applicable to the events, while at the same time minimising public health risks, so that social and economic activities can resume in a gradual manner during this period with stable epidemic situation."

Here are the most important requirements and restrictions to know about event premises during this two-week period:

#1 Catering business

  • The existing requirements and restrictions applicable to the catering business will be maintained during the specified period.
  • All catering businesses must operate according to one of the operating modes among Types A, B, C and D Mode of Operation - except for bars or pubs which are subject to other requirements. 

#2 Bars and pubs

#3 Meetings, forums, symposiums, and weddings (scheduled premises)

Specified events (including meetings, forums, symposiums, exhibitions, ceremonial and celebratory events, as well as weddings and certain business meetings which were exempted group gatherings prior to the legislative amendments) can be conducted at event premises subject to relevant requirements and restrictions.

The relevant requirements and restrictions include:

  • If at least two-thirds of the people participating in the event have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the number of persons to be allowed would be 100% of the normal capacity of the event premises. Otherwise, the number of persons to be allowed would be 50% of the normal capacity;
  • Unless otherwise specified, no more than four persons or the number of persons living in the same household, whichever is more, may be allowed in each group of guests or participants, except when the persons are participating in a photo-taking session and all of the relevant persons are wearing masks;
  • For seating at an auditorium setting or spectator stands, seats to be occupied must not exceed 85% of the seating capacity and no more than six consecutive seats in the same row may be occupied;
  • Catering within an event premise must operate in accordance with the aforementioned restrictions and requirements applicable to catering businesses (above)
  • Any part(s) of the event premises being used or operated as scheduled premises such as fitness centre, amusement game centre or sports premises must operate in accordance with the restrictions and requirements applicable to these premises.

#4 Cruise-to-nowhere to resume effective 30 July

Starting from 30 July, 'cruise-to-nowhere' itineraries can resume subject to compliance with a set of infection control measures by cruise operators.

The relevant measures include:

  • All crew members must be fully vaccinated before commencement of a cruise journey, except for those who can produce valid medical certificate to prove that they are unfit to do so because of health reasons. In all cases, all crew members are still required to undergo a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction-based (PCR) nucleic acid test regularly;
  • All passengers must be fully vaccinated before commencement of a cruise journey, except for those who can produce valid medical certificate to prove that they are unfit to do so because of health reasons and those aged below 16. All passengers have to present a proof of negative result of a COVID-19 PCR nucleic acid test conducted within 48 hours prior to boarding;
    • Note: Starting from September 1, 2021, all customers aged between 12 to 15 must have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Cruise operators are required to adopt a maximum 50% passenger capacity on a cruise ship, comply with the respective sets of hygiene and social distancing measures, and put in place contact tracing mechanism for journeys; 
  • Passengers are required to use the 'LeaveHomeSafe' mobile application to scan the QR code of the cruise ship before boarding.
  • After boarding, they must follow the social distancing and contact tracing mechanism executed by the cruise operators.

#5 Bathhouses, karaoke, and mahjong premises

During this two-week period, the existing requirements applicable to the following scheduled premises under Cap. 599F will be maintained. They can operate according to the specified operation mode if specified measures are adopted (details in Annex 1 and Annex 2).

Otherwise, they should continue to be closed:

  • Bathhouses;
  • Premises (commonly known as party rooms) that are maintained or intended to be maintained for hire for holding social gatherings;
  • Establishments (commonly known as clubs or nightclubs) that are open late into the night, usually for drinking, and dancing or other entertainment;
  • Karaoke establishments; and
  • Mahjong/tin kau premises.

#6 Public entertainment

As far as places of public entertainment are concerned, if all staff members and at least two-thirds of the visitors or customers have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the number of persons to be allowed would be 100% of the normal capacity of the premises, otherwise the number of persons to be allowed would be maintained at the current levels

#7 Other scheduled premises

  • During the specified period, the existing requirements and restrictions applicable to other scheduled premises under Cap. 599F will be maintained.
  • These scheduled premises can be opened when the relevant restrictions are fulfilled (including arranging for all staff members to undergo a PCR nucleic acid test every 14 days, the samples of which must be collected by using combined nasal and throat swabs, and must not be taken by the person to be tested starting from July 29; or complete a COVID-19 vaccination course as an alternative).

#8 Group gatherings: Restricted to four

  • Unless exempted (the exempted group gatherings under Cap. 599G as amended are in Annex 4), the prohibition on group gatherings of more than four persons in public places will continue during the specified period.
  • The requirement is also applicable to group gatherings in catering business and scheduled premises regulated under Cap. 599F in which the relevant requirements or restrictions are not complied with.
  • Group gatherings exempted from Cap. 599G (effective from 22 July 2021) include:
    • Group gathering at a place of work for the purposes of work
    • Group gathering of persons living in the same household
    • Group gathering for performing any governmental function
    • For a full list of exempted gatherings, please click here.

#9 Mask-wearing requirement to continue

  • The mandatory mask-wearing requirement under Cap. 599I will be extended during the specified period above.
  • A person must wear a mask at all times when the person is boarding or on-board a public transport carrier, is entering or present in an MTR paid area, or is entering or present in a specified public place (i.e. all public places, save for outdoor public places in country parks and special areas as defined in section 2 of the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208)).

The spokesman for the Bureau added: "If the vaccination rate in Hong Kong can be raised sooner to achieve herd immunity, the social distancing measures can be further relaxed to allow Hong Kong to return to normality as soon as possible."

Photo / 123RF

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