HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN): Hong Kong’s swimming pools and beaches will reopen starting Thursday (April 1) as the city’s fourth wave of Covid-19 infections subsided, a government official said Monday (March 29).
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said in a briefing that theatres and theme parks will also be allowed to increase their operation capacity from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, while religious gatherings could resume with maximum capacity of 30 per cent, even as most of the city’s social distancing rules were extended for two weeks until April 14.
Chan said the relaxation of restrictions on beaches, theme parks, and religious gatherings was meant for the physical and mental well-being of Hong Kong residents.
However, she urged members of the public to continue observing the other social distancing rules during the Easter holiday to avoid a resurgence of infections.
The next two weeks would be crucial if the city wants to achieve zero local infections, Chan said, citing the advice of public health experts.
The extension applies to a ban on public gatherings of more than four people, a ban on dine-in services at restaurants after 10pm, a mandatory mask-wearing order, and the shutdown of some leisure venues such as mahjong parlors and night clubs.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents currently in the United Kingdom will be able to fly back to the city from late April and then stay at quarantine hotels for three weeks, Chan said.
She noted that Britain recently saw its number of new cases decline as vaccination rates increased. Flights from the UK had been banned since Dec 22 last year.
Chan also said travellers from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore will only need to spend 14 days in hotels for quarantine because the outbreaks in these three countries had been put under control.
Travellers from other overseas regions would have to undergo three weeks of hotel quarantine.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said at the same briefing that Hong Kong has restarted negotiations with Singapore for a “travel bubble” arrangement which would exempt travellers from mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is also in talks with Japan, South Korea, Thailand and New Zealand for similar travel arrangements, Yau said, adding that residents who want to travel under the scheme should get their two vaccine shots and wait for another two weeks before taking their flight.
Hong Kong reported eight new Covid-19 cases on Monday, including one locally transmitted case of unknown origin, Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, said at a separate briefing.
The local case involved a 22-year-old student from Hong Kong Baptist University, Chuang said. The patient, who lived at Fullview Garden in Siu Sai Wan, last visited the university’s Kowloon Tong campus on March 22 and developed symptoms on Thursday.
Around 40 of his classmates and teachers would be quarantined, Chuang said.
She said the patient also worked as a soccer coach in Victoria Park for pupils from Pun U Association Wah Yan Primary School on March 21. Twelve students and three other trainers would have to be quarantined.
The seven imported cases included five from the Philippines and one each from Turkey and the United States, Chuang said.
Hong Kong’s tally of confirmed infections rose to 11,454, with 205 related deaths. - China Daily/Asia News Network