The rollback of Hong Kong’s social-distancing curbs has put festive events back on the calendar and helped to gradually revive the tourism industry after more than 2½ years of cancellations and shutdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic . With Christmas and New Year’s Eve fast approaching, the Post breaks down the recent changes to Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic rules, as well as the city’s must-see tourist attractions and festive events. 1. What are the latest rules for social gatherings? The government from Thursday no longer requires proof of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result for patrons of bars and banquets, as well as people joining local tours. Authorities have also axed restrictions which placed a cap on the number of people who could attend banquets at 240, but patrons are expected to abide by the city’s mask mandate in public places and stick to a limit of 12 diners per table. Hong Kong performance venues applaud loosening of Covid-19 restrictions The new rules also allow entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres, theme parks and museums to operate at full capacity, which were previously limited to 85 per cent. The operators of karaoke and party rooms are covered by the axing of the capacity cap but can only host 12 revellers per room in alignment with rules on the number of people allowed to gather in a public place. Restrictions on the number of patrons per table at bars and restaurants remain in effect, with the cap set at 12 and six, respectively. 2. What are the new relaxed Covid-19 rules for travellers? Hong Kong on December 14 initiated its biggest rollback of Covid-19 curbs so far, with authorities no longer issuing amber health codes that prevented arrivals from entering venues such as bars and restaurants until they had completed a three-day medical surveillance period. Inbound travellers who receive negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results at the airport are issued blue codes and have citywide freedom of movement. A second PCR screening is also required on the third day after arrival, in addition to daily RATs until the fifth day. Anyone who tests positive will continue to be issued a red health code and subject to isolation. Under the new rules, use of the government’s “Leave Home Safe” risk-exposure app is no longer required to enter all premises, with visitors only needing to present their blue health code to enter venues covered by the city’s vaccine pass scheme. 3. What festive goodies can you find in Hong Kong? With the extensive easing of restrictions, Hong Kong has no shortage of festive events to check out. To get people into the festive spirit, the Tourism Board will host “Hong Kong WinterFest” at Victoria Harbour on the west side of the Harbourside Lawn at Art Park, West Kowloon. Running from December 23 to 27, the event will include a six-storey Christmas tree and eight cosy winter lodges that are open to visitors. A ‘boost to spending sentiment’ as Hong Kong further relaxes dining rules Harbourside Lawn West will also be transformed into a “Christmas town” until New Year’s Day, with festive trees and other seasonal decorations such as ornaments and garlands. Patrons of Hong Kong Disneyland can also enjoy cheaper rates if they visit the park twice from now until January 30, for a total price tag of HK$759. One-day tickets cost HK$639 originally. Visitors looking to enjoy a more European take on the holidays can head to the Finnish Christmas town in Ocean Park, with its cosy market and rustic cottages open to all until January 2. While Hong Kong has cancelled its traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display for the fourth year in a row, the board will instead usher in 2023 with a multimedia lights show atop the city’s skyline. Hong Kong snuffs out hope to bring back fireworks display, opts for lights shows The event will feature a 10-minute display featuring laser beams and pyrotechnics mounted on buildings and landmarks along Victoria Harbour. Revellers will be able to count down the final moments of 2022 with a gigantic clock projected onto the harbour-facing facade of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. 4. What about the old favourites for tourists? The operators of several of the city’s top tourist attractions have taken advantage of the lull during the pandemic to upgrade their facilities and apply a few new coats of paint. The Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride, which traverses Ngong Ping and Tung Chung, is one such attraction. Operators introduced seven new Crystal+ cabins in December, which can accommodate up to 10 people and are made using fully transparent tempered glass that provides greater visibility than other cabins. Hong Kong’s Peak Tram also returned to service in August with a nearly 70 per cent increase in ticket prices after the Covid-19 pandemic inflated the revamp cost to nearly HK$800 million. The attraction – popular with visitors taking a ride to The Peak – shut in June 2021 for a facelift. Visitors can now travel to The Peak in sixth-generation tram cars, which can accommodate up to 210 passengers per ride, a 75 per cent increase from the old model. Ticket prices for adults have also increased to HK$88 from the previous HK$52 fee. 5. What are the transport arrangements? The MTR will run overnight train services on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve so the public can enjoy the festive celebrations. The Airport Express and Disneyland Resort line are excluded from this arrangement. MTR bus routes 506, K51 and K54 will extend their service times to between 12.45am and 1.50am on both days. Citybus’ overnight services NA10, NA11, NA12 and NA29 – routes connecting the airport or Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge with city areas – took effect on December 20. Hong Kong, Beijing ‘must reopen border slowly’ to prevent new coronavirus wave Long Win Bus, a sister company of KMB, says airport bus routes such as A31, A33X and A41P will be enhanced to cater to residents living in New Territories neighbourhoods like Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun. To cope with passenger demand at Hong Kong Disneyland, LWB route R33 to and from Tuen Mun Station and the theme park will provide additional departures on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays between December 17 and January 1.