New rules kick in as HK partially eases curbs

Entry SOP: Patrons waiting to be served after scanning the QR code for the LeaveHomeSafe app at a restaurant in Hong Kong. — Reuters

HONG KONG: Scanning the QR code of the HK government’s “LeaveHomeSafe” Covid-19 risk mapping app or recording personal details for eating out became mandatory as the Asian financial hub started easing virus curbs.

Hong Kong reported eight new coronavirus infections yesterday, all locally transmitted, bringing the city’s overall tally to 10,820.

Three of the new cases were untraceable, according to a statement issued by the Centre for Health Protection.

According to a government press release issued late Wednesday, the personal data of restaurant patrons will be retained for 31 days.

Government officials, while trying to allay privacy concerns, had said earlier that the data would be essentially used for contact tracing.

Dozens of restaurants across the city, however, announced to suspend dine-in facilities over privacy concerns with respect to customer data.

For game centres, theme parks, fitness centres, cinemas and other entertainment venues, beauty and massage parlours and sports premises, patrons are encouraged to scan the “LeaveHomeSafe” app. The premises are required to have strict infection control measures in place.

Hong Kong’s physical distancing measures, which took effect in early December last year to contain the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections included a ban on in-house dining after 6pm and the closure of some entertainment venues.

Beginning yesterday, restaurants are allowed to provide dine-in service until 10pm with four people now allowed to sit together at one table.

Karaoke lounges, party rooms, mahjong parlours, as well as pubs and bars will remain closed. The maximum number of people at public gatherings still remain capped at two and is expected to be raised to four soon. — China Daily/ANN

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