In light of daily COVID infections finally falling below 300 recently, Hong Kong is going forward with the second stage of social-distancing relaxations initially set to launch on May 19. But, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has also decided to ease some restrictions even earlier. Here is a summary of the relaxations announced on Tuesday:
- Restaurants can now take up to eight diners per table.
- Swimming pools, beaches and water playgrounds will re-open.
- People can take their masks off at outdoor venues, such as basketball and tennis courts.
From May 19:
- Previously-closed venues will re-open, including bars (until 2 a.m.), party rooms, karaoke lounges, mahjong parlors, nightclubs and cruises.
- Restaurant service hours will be extended to midnight.
- Banquets will allow 120 people.
- Cinemas will increase from 50% to an 85% capacity limit, and eating and drinking will be allowed.
“Taking into account that the pandemic situation is under control, I have decided to allow some earlier relaxations, especially for diners per table as Mother’s Day is coming,” said Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a press conference on Tuesday.
“The COVID number has dropped to three digits in mid-April and didn’t rebound, despite foot traffic increasing during two holidays,” Lam said, adding that it was not right to keep people from swimming when the weather was so nice.
“The weather has turned cooler these two days, but the end of April saw record heat with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees,” said Lam. “So we were inclined to listen to people’s views.”