Two health experts have suggested relaxing Hong Kong’s restrictions on public gatherings if Covid-19 remains under control over the coming seven days, with the city not recording any local infections for nearly two weeks. Hong Kong confirmed one imported Covid-19 case on Wednesday – bringing the total to 1,066, with four related deaths. Speaking to the Post, Chinese University’s Dr David Hui Shu-cheong, a member of the government’s expert committee on public health, said he agreed with the recent decision to reopen karaoke lounges, nightclubs and party rooms, due to the city having gone 13 days without local transmission. If the situation remained under control, Hui said the ban on public gatherings of more than eight people could be lifted as well. “I believe if there are no new cases in the coming week, then we can abolish the ban, but people should continue to wear masks in crowded areas and when travelling on public transport,” he said. For restaurants, which are currently limited to eight people per table, Hui suggested a further relaxation to 12 people, but said tables should remain 1.5 metres apart and that customers should wear masks after eating. A source who is a member of the government’s expert advisory group on public health said he expected the administration to extend the limit to 12 or 16 people when the ban expires on June 4, instead of dropping it entirely. “The ban can serve as a reminder for the public to keep social distancing,” the source said. “The government also has to evaluate the risks of transmission at large public gatherings such as music or trade shows if the ban is lifted totally.” Hong Kong introduced social-distancing measures in late March, when public gatherings of more than four were banned. With the situation improving, gatherings of up to eight people were permitted in public settings and restaurants earlier this month. That restriction remains in effect through June 4. The government has yet to decide whether it will be extended, a situation that has prompted police to deny a permit for the annual Victoria Park candlelight vigil commemorating the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The city’s newest case involved a 24-year-old man who on Tuesday returned from studying in the United States. The student, who had complained of a runny nose in early April, was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, according to the Centre for Health Protection. I believe if there are no new cases in the coming week, then we can abolish the ban [on groups larger than eight], but people should continue to wear masks in crowded areas Chinese University’s Dr David Hui The centre has urged the public to maintain appropriate social distancing from others and to avoid unnecessary gatherings to reduce the chance of coming into contact with asymptomatic carriers. “Given that the situation of Covid-19 infection remains severe and that there is a continuous increase in the number of cases reported around the world, members of the public are strongly urged to avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong,” a centre spokesman said. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as of Wednesday afternoon, there were more than 5.59 million confirmed cases globally, with over 350,000 related deaths. Hong Kong’s last locally transmitted case was reported on May 14, when a 62-year-old man tested positive. His 66-year-old wife and five-year-old granddaughter were previously confirmed to be infected. Since then, there have been 15 imported cases, including the one recorded today. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.