Hong Kong to ease social distancing measures from 21 April 2022: More people allowed to gather, premises reopen, and more

Hong Kong to ease social distancing measures from 21 April 2022: More people allowed to gather, premises reopen, and more

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Dine-in services will resume and be allowed to operate till 9.59pm, the number of diners per table will increase from two to four pax, and banquets of up to 20 people maximum will be allowed.

After tightening social distancing measures to the highest level since the fifth wave of the epidemic, a silver lining of relaxation can now be seen in Hong Kong.

In response to calls by citizens and industry sectors for resuming normal activities as early as practicable, the Hong Kong government announced the relaxation of the city’s social distancing measures in phases starting from 21 April 2022.

The government also emphasised that citizens must strictly comply with the anti-epidemic arrangements upon re-opening of the premises, including holding a valid Vaccine Pass, using the 'LeaveHomeSafe' mobile application, complying with the restrictions on the number of persons and capacity of the premises allowed, wearing masks, taking body temperature, etc., in order to maintain local capacity in containing the epidemic, minimise the risk of viral spread within the community, and avoid a rebound which may in turn potentially necessitate re-tightening of social distancing measures.

The first stage of adjustments include allowing resumption of dinnertime dine-in services, re-opening of most previously closed premises, as well as updates on the restrictions on gatherings in public and private places. See specific measures as follows.

Dine-in service during dinnertime resumes

  • The dine-in service hours of catering premises can be extended till 9.59pm, which will allow for resumption of dinnertime dine-in services.
  • The maximum number of persons per table will be increased from two to four, and banquets with no more than 20 persons will be allowed.
  • Live performance and dancing activity is still not allowed in catering premises. Karaoke or mahjong-tin kau activity should also be suspended therein.
  • Other requirements and restrictions on catering premises will continue to remain in force, including that all customers, when they are away from the table, must not consume food or drink, must wear a mask, and they must scan the LeaveHomeSafe venue QR code using the LeaveHomeSafe app on their mobile phones/other mobile devices before entering the premises (excluding persons who only order takeaway).
  • Bars or pubs will remain closed.
  • All staff of catering premises must conduct rapid antigen test (RAT) every three days before entering the premises.

Premises reopen

  • Sports premises (indoor and outdoor venues), fitness centres, beauty parlours and massage establishments, places of public entertainment (including cinemas), places of amusement, amusement game centres, event premises and religious premises will be allowed to re-open, subject to restrictions of allowing patrons in groups of four without exceeding 50% of the capacity upon re-opening.
  • The aforementioned premises, as well as barber shops or hair salons, shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets and markets must implement the Vaccine Pass and ensure customers use LeaveHomeSafe.
  • Staff members and customers alike must wear a mask at all times save for exempted circumstances.
  • 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; mahjong-tin kau premises; and cruise ships must continue to suspend operations.
  • Team sports will be allowed to take place.
  • Swimming pools can only be opened for the training by or selection of the Hong Kong representative team and squad for specific sports events with a view to preparing for such events.
  • As for cinemas, patrons are generally not allowed to eat or drink in the premises; however, they may eat or drink in the individual house therein when relevant requirements are met, which are:
    • All staff involved in the operation of the cinema has received three doses of vaccine/are persons who have recovered and received two doses of vaccine, or are holders of a Medical Exemption Certificate; and
    • All patrons entering the individual house for the same screening have received three doses of vaccine (children aged 12 or below and persons who have recovered in the past three months will be deemed as meeting the entry requirement should they have received two doses of vaccine).

ASLO READ: Hong Kong flight ban to be lifted, quarantine shortened to 7 days effective 1 April 2022

Group gatherings

  • The number of persons allowed in group gatherings in public places goes up from two to four.
  • Restrictions on multi-household gathering (namely prohibition of gatherings in private places involving more than two households) will be lifted.
  • Local group tours with no more than 30 persons may resume under the following conditions:
    • Relevant staff has received three doses of vaccine, and conducted 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 RAT on the same day before the commencement of local group tour activities, the relevant restriction on the number of participants will be relaxed to 100 persons.

Mask-wearing requirement

The mandatory mask-wearing requirement will be extended for the period from 21 April to 4 May 2022. A person must wear a mask all the time 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 indoor and outdoor public places).

Schools resume in-person classes from April 19, 2022

Primary schools, international schools and kindergartens may resume face-to-face classes in phases, according to their specific arrangements, as early as 19 April 2022 after the Easter holidays, while secondary schools may do so after the examinations of the 2022 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination core subjects are completed.

All the staff, teachers. and students will be required to take daily rapid antigen test and they can only go to school if the test result is negative.

The spokesman said: "The Government will continue to closely monitor the epidemic development(s) and adjust the social distancing measures in a timely manner, so that social and economic activities can be gradually resumed. Since the epidemic situation has not been fully subsided, we urge citizens to observe all applicable social distancing measures and receive the third dose of vaccine as early as possible.

"Eligible persons should also receive the fourth dose of vaccine. This will help Hong Kong to resume normalcy at an earlier time."

[Click here for an exhaustive list on the latest requirements for catering business and scheduled premises during the 21 April to 4 May 2022 period]

Image / 123RF

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