Hong Kong to ease physical distancing rules

HONG KONG: The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) said it aims to ease some coronavirus curbs in an orderly way as pandemic trends in the Asian financial hub were continuing to stabilise.

From Oct 6, some physical distancing measures will be relaxed, including raising the maximum number of persons per table in restaurants to 12 from eight, while banquets will be allowed to have up to 240 people attending, compared with 120 now.

Bars, pubs and nightclubs, meanwhile, will be able to serve up to six people per table, up from the current four.

However, diners in groups of more than 12 and those going to bars will still have to present a negative rapid antigen test result upon entry, local media reported.

The 12-person rule will also apply to premises like party rooms and karaoke lounges.

The SAR authorities also announced on Friday the scrapping of the suspension mechanism imposed on the cruise industry, which forces their ships to return to port if a suspected Covid-19 infection is detected on board.

The announcements came as the city’s health authorities recorded 4,023 new coronavirus infections and eight Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the city’s toll during the fifth wave to 9,948.

In a statement, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health said the new cases comprised 3,810 local infections and 213 imported ones.

Of the locally acquired cases, 2,778 cases were identified through rapid antigen tests and the rest by nucleic acid tests.

In a separate statement, the Hospital Authority said there were 1,762 Covid-19 patients receiving treatment at public hospitals, including 159 new admissions.

Total 23 Covid-19 patients were in serious condition and 37 in critical condition, of whom seven were under intensive care, it added. — China Daily/ANN

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