After being battered by a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections for more than three months, Hong Kong has started to loosen the toughest social-distancing measures imposed on the city, with the number of cases on a downward trend in recent weeks. Travel restrictions that forced flight bans from Britain and subsequently South Africa have been expanded to cover Brazil and Ireland. The bans are reviewed fortnightly. Here is what you need to know about the relaxing of social-distancing measures, latest travel rules and dos and don’ts during the pandemic: How many people can gather in a group currently? The maximum number of people that can gather in public places is two. How about dining at a restaurant? You can dine at a restaurant from 5am to 10pm, with a maximum of four per table, so long as stricter public health measures are followed. In addition, the number of customers cannot exceed 50 per cent of the venue’s normal seating capacity. Any other requirements for visiting venues? Venue or dining staff will ask customers to use the “Leave Home Safe” Covid-19 risk exposure app at their premises, or request that they provide their name and phone number for potential contact-tracing purposes. I would like a drink at my favourite bar, can I do that? Bars and clubs are closed until further notice. What premises are open and closed? From February 18, numerous venues will reopen including beauty salons, gyms, indoor and outdoor sports premises, amusement centres and theme parks. Entertainment facilities including bowling alleys and ice rinks can also reopen. Public performance venues such as concert halls, theme parks, exhibition centres and cinemas will also be able to welcome back patrons. Ocean Park will reopen from February 18. Disneyland Hong Kong will welcome guests the following day. Staycations are strictly controlled with no more than four people allowed per hotel room, or eight per suite. Swimming pools, bathhouses, karaoke and mahjong parlours, game centres, bars, nightclubs, karaoke venues, party rooms, dance clubs and other nightlife establishments will remain closed. What can I do for leisure and exercise? The Leisure and Cultural Services Department is reopening indoor facilities (except children's play rooms) in sports centres, the Hong Kong Squash Centre/stand-alone squash centres, a table tennis centre, the Hong Kong Velodrome and Queen Elizabeth Stadium, as well as sports grounds (for athletic events). Also open are chess tables, amphitheatres (for individual leisure use), skateparks, skateboard grounds, roller-skating rinks, model car play areas, model boat pools, a rope course, road safety towns, water sports centres, football pitches, hockey grounds, cricket grounds, basketball courts, volleyball courts, handball courts, netball courts and a roller-hockey court. For team sports, the maximum number of players and referees allowed on each playing field/court at any time should follow the rules of the respective competition, the department says. Outdoor walks, riding on one of Hong Kong’s many bike-friendly routes in the New Territories, or hiking without a mask in country parks, are also still available. What should I know before going for a hike with friends? Anyone doing vigorous exercise outdoors is exempted from wearing a mask, but the rule of two will apply as country parks are considered public spaces. Can I go to the beach? All public beaches, which are run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, are closed until further notice. There are, however, four dozen or so private beaches still open as they do not fall under the purview of government regulations. Although gatherings on private yachts are not regulated, marine police have been tasked with patrolling, warning and even fining those who rent out yachts for private parties, as well as the attendees. Can I go to church or attend other forms of religious gathering? Group gatherings for religious activities are no longer permitted after an exemption was removed on December 2, 2020, but you can still meet in pairs or take part in online services. Does the two-person rule mean I can’t go out with my family members if there are more than two of us? Gatherings for family members who live in the same household are exempted. That means family trips to public spaces such as country parks and shopping malls are still allowed. But relevant social-distancing rules in restaurants and other premises must still be observed. Can I invite friends or relatives from different households to my home for celebrations? While there are currently no regulations governing private spaces, the recommended health advice is to not mix different households due to the risk of silent transmission of the virus by asymptomatic carriers. What will happen if I flout social-distancing restrictions on public gatherings? Any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering commits an offence and can be fined a fixed penalty, the amount of which was raised from HK$2,000 to HK$5,000 on December 11, 2020. What is happening to schools and education facilities? The government says all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools (including special schools and those offering a non-local curriculum), and tutorial centres will be allowed to let more students return to campuses on a half-day basis, with the number of pupils capped at one-third of the total roll. Medical expert warns surge of untraceable infections will last the year How about borrowing and returning books from the library? From February 19, the Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay and six major libraries at City Hall, Kowloon, Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun and Ping Shan Tin Shui Wai will partially reopen, so will 31 district libraries. Not all library facilities will be available, such as the newspapers and periodicals area, students’ study room, computer facilities and hiring facilities. The Toy Library and Children’s Multimedia Room of the Hong Kong Central Library and the Kid’s Internet & Digital Service workstations at other public libraries will remain closed. E-books are available via the Hong Kong public library’s online database. Following the reopening, the counting of overdue fines will not be generated and due dates will start on March 5. We have planned everything for our wedding this month, is it still on the table? The good news is that despite all the enhanced social-distancing rules, gatherings for wedding ceremonies are still allowed. The bad news is you will have to cut your invitation list to no more than 20 people, with no food or drink served on site. What are work-from-home guidelines for both the public and private sectors? All civil servants have returned to their workplaces and the government has resumed offering normal public services, albeit in a manner consistent with social-distancing guidelines. Private companies are not required to implement work-from-home policies, but they are encouraged to allow flexible working practices. I want to get tested for travel, what are the available channels? There are currently 19 community testing centres throughout Hong Kong. You can book online or drop in daily from 8am to 1.30pm and from 2.30pm to 8pm. The fee is HK$250 (US$32) per person. You are strongly recommended to book well in advance since community testing is supporting the reopening of eateries and other places. Are those currently in Britain, South Africa, Brazil or Ireland able to travel to Hong Kong? No. All passenger flights from Britain are banned. No charter flights are currently planned for those in Britain, including students. Flights from Britain are operating as cargo-only and returning to the country with passengers from Hong Kong. There are currently no non-stop flights from South Africa, Brazil or Ireland. I have travelled to Britain or South Africa in the past 21 days, but am planning to fly to Hong Kong from another country. Is this allowed? No. Anyone who has spent just two hours in Britain, South Africa, Brazil or Ireland in the past 21 days will be barred from travelling to Hong Kong, including permanent residents. Coronavirus: don’t let guard down over Lunar New Year, health expert warns When will I be able to fly from Britain, South Africa, Brazil or Ireland to Hong Kong? The government has not provided an endpoint for the ban, but Cathay Pacific has cancelled flights from Britain through at least February 24. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which also fly non-stop to and from London, have scrapped various flights, too. The ban is reviewed every two weeks, but the government's overriding concern remains the risk of imported mutated viruses slipping through at the border. Apart from coming from places with flight bans, what about “very high-risk” countries? Travellers coming from Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States must present a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of their departure to Hong Kong if it is a non-stop flight. If the traveller is transiting elsewhere, the 72-hour window is tied to the departure time of the final leg of the journey to Hong Kong. I am arriving in Hong Kong by plane from somewhere other than mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, Britain , South Africa, Brazil or Ireland or a “very high-risk” country ? What are the rules? Inbound travellers must have a confirmed 21-day booking from the date of arrival at one of 36 hotels designated for quarantine. Dedicated transport will take arrivals to their accommodation. How many Covid-19 tests do I need to take? Passengers arriving in Hong Kong must take three tests spread across 19 days. Upon arrival, a swab test is administered at the airport by medical personnel. A second, saliva-based test must be submitted on the 12th day of quarantine, with a negative result returned before you can leave the isolation facility. A third test, also saliva-based, is then taken on the 19th day at home. People are advised to stay in isolation at home until the third and final test result is returned. If I am arriving from mainland China, Macau or Taiwan, what do I do? If you are returning to Hong Kong at one of two border crossings – Shenzhen Bay or the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge – you can quarantine at home for 14 days. Upon arrival at the Hong Kong border checkpoint, be prepared to leave a deep-throat saliva sample for testing. While Hong Kong residents returning from Guangdong province or Macau can avoid hotel quarantine, there is currently a daily quota of 3,000 people allowed to return via Shenzhen Bay and 2,000 from the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. How can I take advantage of the scheme? You must be over 18 and apply online using the booking system for “Return2HK”, using a Hong Kong identity card. The application can include up to three other people. The booking window is from 9am on Wednesdays until 6pm on Fridays for the seven-day period extending from Monday to Sunday the following week. The scheme is run on a first come, first served non-transferable basis. What is the health control criteria for Return2HK? Get a nucleic acid Covid-19 test within three days of your entry to Hong Kong to prove you are negative for the virus using recognised medical or testing institutions in Guangdong or Macau. A Hong Kong government electronic health declaration form must be filled no more than 24 hours prior to crossing the border. What if I am going to Shenzhen from Hong Kong? From January 5, people travelling to Shenzhen via the Shenzhen Bay Port immigration checkpoint need to present a confirmed 14-day hotel reservation for quarantine, and a valid, negative Covid-19 nucleic acid test result received within the past 24 hours. This article will be updated regularly so please bookmark the page for the latest developments.