Hong Kong’s record in handling the Covid-19 pandemic justifies the further easing of social-distancing restrictions. The government’s decision on Tuesday enables much-needed further opening up of economic activity to lessen the worst unemployment rate in more than 15 years while allowing more entertainment and recreation. But as welcome as the moves are, among them the raising of gathering limits in public places from eight people to 50 for at least two weeks from Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other officials struck a cautious tone in announcing the relaxations. There is good reason to be careful; as a fresh outbreak in Beijing shows, a total lift is not possible when there is still so much uncertainty about the disease. The easing is appreciated after four months of relatively tight restrictions. Other moves include permitting wedding banquets, lifting of restaurant customer limits, allowing twice as many people per table as before for bars, pubs, nightclubs and karaoke lounges, and resumption of live entertainment. With the city’s two theme parks, Ocean Park and Disneyland, reopening, and the Book Fair and other trade events and exhibitions getting the green light from next month, encouraging signs abound that life can soon return to normal. But no matter how strong the push for business as usual, there is still every need for wariness and vigilance. Recent outbreaks of the coronavirus, both in Beijing and the city, highlight why there is a need to maintain some restrictions. A cluster centred on the Xinfadi wholesale food market in the capital’s southwest is the worst flare-up of Covid-19 on the mainland since February and so far accounts for scores of people. It has sparked fears of a second wave of the infectious disease and prompted a return of lockdowns and travel restrictions. Hong Kong raises limit on public gatherings to 50 people as pandemic eases While talks are under way between Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau to relax border controls, it is obvious that such a step cannot be done too hastily. Hong Kong is still looking into the reason for a cluster of nine infections in a block of flats at a public housing estate in Sha Tin. Nearly 100 people from the block are in quarantine and uncertainty remains about how the infections occurred. The local and Beijing incidents highlight the realities of Covid-19 – there is much still to be learned about how it is spread and transmitted. There is also the hard truth that a vaccine still has to be developed. Lam said there was no exact science in determining how far the government may go with relaxations. There are limits to how many people can be tested daily for Covid-19. So a balance has to be struck between minimising risks, resuming economic activity and meeting community expectations. Until there is a marked change in fighting the coronavirus, it is a new normal that we have to accept.