This implies the current restrictions on dine-in timings and group sizes, mask-wearing, pre-testing for banquet entry, and passive checking of LeaveHomeSafe logins remain in place.
Hong Kong's Government has announced the extension of existing social distancing measures, which will now remain in place from 22 September to 5 October 2022.
This extension is applicable to all existing measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, namely:
- Allowing all catering premises and scheduled premises to continue to operate subject to strict compliance with requirements including those concerning:
- Vaccine Pass,
- Red Code,
- Amber Code,
- Mask-wearing for citizens on transport carriers and in specified public places,
- Prohibition of group gatherings of more than four persons in public places.
The specific social measures in place in Hong Kong are detailed below.
The following are the measures to keep in mind for persons responsible for a catering business:
- From 0.00am to 4.59am every day, save for specific premises listed here, a catering business must continue to cease selling or supplying food or drink for consumption on the premises (dine-in measures), and close any premises or part of the premises on which food or drink is sold or supplied for on-site consumption. Takeaway and deliveries are still allowed. A notice must be put up at the entrance to remind patrons that food or drink should not be consumed in areas adjacent to the catering premises.
- All patrons who enter the catering premises for attending banquets or enter the bar/pub zone therein must present proof of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result obtained within 24 hours or a negative PCR test result obtained within 48 hours. Otherwise, they should be denied entry.
- The maximum number of persons per table for catering premises will be eight, and banquets with no more than 120 persons will be allowed.
- Live performance and dancing activity will remain prohibited therein.
- Bars/pubs may open every day from 5am to 1.59am of the subsequent day with a maximum number of four persons per table and the total number of patrons capped at 75% of their capacity. Live performance and dancing activity will remain prohibited therein. All patrons must continue to present proof of a negative RAT result within 24 hours or a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before entering the relevant premises. Otherwise, they should be denied entry.
- All patrons, when they are away from the table, must not consume food or drink and must wear a mask, and they must scan the "LeaveHomeSafe" venue QR code using the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile application on their mobile phones/other mobile devices before entering the premises (excluding persons who only order takeaway).
- Operators of catering premises and bars/pubs are required to use the latest "QR Code Verification Scanner" mobile application provided by the Government to scan the QR code of a patron's vaccination record, medical exemption certificate or recovery record.
The following are the measures to keep in mind for persons responsible for scheduled premises:
- For swimming pools, sports premises, fitness centres, beauty parlours and massage establishments, places of public entertainment, places of amusement, amusement game centres, event premises, religious premises, barber shops/hair salons, bathhouses, party rooms, clubs/nightclubs, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises and cruise ships, managers must comply with the relevant restrictions under Cap. 599F. This means:
- All staff members involved in the operations must conduct a RAT once every three days before entering the premises.
- Live performance and dancing activity remain prohibited in clubs/nightclubs, and their patrons should continue to be denied entry unless they can present proof of a negative RAT result obtained within 24 hours or a negative PCR test result obtained within 48 hours before entering the relevant premises.
- Staff members and patrons alike must wear a mask at all times save for exempted circumstances.
- Citizens are allowed not to wear masks when they are exercising in sports premises as well as fitness centres which meet the requirement on air change.
- For club-houses and hotels or guesthouses, managers must continue to comply with the relevant restrictions under Cap. 599F, and the catering premises, bars/pubs and scheduled premises therein must comply with all applicable requirements.
- For shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets and markets, the manager/person-in-charge must continue to comply with the relevant restrictions under Cap. 599F, including fulfilling the relevant requirements on use of "LeaveHomeSafe" and the Vaccine Pass under "passive checking".
- The restriction on the number of persons allowed in premises such as cinemas, performance venues, museums, event premises and religious premises, etc, will remain at 85% of their capacity. Patrons may eat and drink in cinema houses.
- The mandatory mask-wearing requirement will be extended. This means all persons must wear a mask all the time when they are boarding or on board a public transport carrier, are entering or present in an MTR paid area, or are entering or present in a specified public place.
- Citizens are allowed not to wear masks if they are present in outdoor public places in country parks and special areas as defined in section 2 of the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208), or are conducting strenuous physical activity (e.g. exercising or jogging) in outdoor public places.
- Person who do not wear a mask in accordance with the requirements may be denied from boarding a public transport carrier or entering the area concerned, as well as be asked to wear a mask or disembark from the carrier or leave the said area. The maximum penalty for such an offence is a fine at level 3 ($10,000).
- In addition, authorised public officers may issue penalty notices to persons who do not wear a mask in accordance, and such persons may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty at HK$5,000.
- Unless exempted, group gatherings of more than four persons in public places will remain prohibited. The group gatherings' requirement is also applicable to catering premises, bars/pubs and scheduled premises regulated under Cap. 599F.
- Subject to relevant requirements, local group tours with no more than 30 persons may continue to be conducted, if and only if:
- Relevant staff have received three doses of vaccine, and conducted an RAT on the same day before the commencement of local group tour activities, and
- All tour participants have fulfilled the prevailing Vaccine Pass requirements.
- If all tour participants have conducted an RAT on the same day of the tour before the commencement of local group tour activities, the relevant restriction on the number of participants will be relaxed to 100 persons.
- Any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of such a gathering; and knowingly allows the taking place of such a gathering commits an offence under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G). Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Forward facing outlook
The announcement on the extension comes as the number of daily new cases in Hong Kong has started to show signs of decline. "It is now a critical time to further stabilise the epidemic situation. To have a clear observation of the epidemic trend, the Government decided to maintain the existing social distancing measures in the next 14-day cycle," the Government spokesperson explained.
The spokesperson stressed on the need to boost vaccination rates, especially for the elderly and children, as well as reminded the public on the latest updates to Vaccine Pass arrangements.
Looking ahead, the statement noted: "In the light of the ongoing epidemic development, the Government does not preclude adjustments to individual social distancing measures."
Image / Hong Kong CE John Lee broadcast