With the fifth wave seemingly over, Hong Kong is now seeing below 1,300 daily COVID infections. Along with the recently boosted testing and isolation capacity, the government will also ease its COVID rules next week. Here’s a quick summary of the changes:
- Restaurant dining hours are extended until 10 p.m. with four people per table
- Sporting venues, like fitness centers and gyms, will re-open
- Religious venues, beauty and massage parlors, game centers, theme parks, museums, cinemas, libraries and playgrounds will re-open
- Public gathering restrictions will extend from two people to four
- Private gatherings can include more than two households
But, some things will stay closed, including bars, public beaches, pools and barbeque sites.
“With this greater capacity, it would be very, very unreasonable and perhaps unacceptable to the majority of Hong Kong people to continue to close all these premises and allow people no chance to lead a normal life,” said Chief Executive Carrie Lam. COVID regulations will be relaxed in three phases (but the timing has not been announced yet). “This is a very balanced and prudent approach in order to meet the needs of Hong Kong.”
“Any measure that enables Hong Kong to resume normal operations will inevitably bring risks of transmission, and infections are still relatively high despite their recent decline,” said Lam at a briefing. “Safeguards like rapid tests and existing social distancing rules make the risks manageable.” The city follows the COVID-zero approach (alongside China), with mandatory mass testing still in the works.