A third-phase easing in late June of social-distancing rules that would lift all restrictions on pubs and restaurants may be delayed because of recent Covid-19 infections tied to two bar clusters, Hong Kong’s leader has said. The possible suspension of the easing plan came as a government source clarified on Tuesday that a disc jockey playing music in a bar and interacting with customers at the same time was likely to be considered as a live performance, meaning bars, clubs and restaurants with such sessions could violate the current social-distancing rules. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also told reporters before the weekly meeting of her de facto cabinet on Tuesday that there would be no wide adjustments before June 30 to other pandemic measures, such as reducing the seven-day hotel quarantine for arrivals. “There have already been more than 10 … infection clusters in the community, especially the most recent two involving bars, so we have to take a very prudent approach and my position at this moment is that we will probably not introduce the third and final stage of social-distancing relaxation before the end of June,” she said. Hong Kong on Tuesday recorded 329 new Covid-19 cases, the highest since the same number of infections was posted on May 18. Thirty five of the new cases were imported. No new coronavirus-related deaths were reported. The city’s tally of confirmed cases now stands at 1,212,699, with 9,378 related fatalities. As of Tuesday, four more cases were added to the cluster at Zentral nightclub in Lan Kwai Fong, bringing the total number of infections there to 27. Ten more infections were also detected in the cluster at Iron Fairies and J. Boroski bar, pushing the total to 32. Currently, bars are allowed to stay open until 2am, with a four-person table cap. No live performance or dancing is allowed, and patrons must wear masks at all times except when drinking or eating. Authorities had announced in March that the third phase of eased rules – under a three-stage pandemic exit strategy – involved the lifting of all restrictions on opening hours, capacity and number of diners per table at premises such as bars and restaurants. Border controls unlikely to be eased before June 30; Hong Kong logs 250 Covid cases Lam on Tuesday said there would be minimal impact on the public even if the third phase was not implemented next month. “The final phase actually involves only removing any remaining restrictions on the operation of these premises … On balance, I feel [not further easing curbs on] these activities won’t be very detrimental to a return to normality for most Hong Kong people,” she said. With measures from the second stage of reopening to be extended until June 15, the number of diners per table at restaurants will remain capped at eight and that for those at a banquet at 120. Eateries cannot offer dine-in services after midnight. Capacity for some places, such as bars and pubs, cinemas and performance venues and party rooms, are still capped at either 75 or 85 per cent. The chief executive also said that in the past week, the epidemic situation had remained stable, and there was no obvious rebound in the number of cases. Other indicators, such as viral load in sewage samples, also stayed at low levels, she added. The number of people receiving hospital treatment for Covid-19 was falling, Lam said. Latest Hospital Authority figures showed there were 419 such patients as of Tuesday, including 10 critical and eight serious cases. As the clusters in the Lan Kwai Fong district continue to grow, questions have centred on whether the two nightclubs violated any social-distancing measures. Local media reported that disc jockeys were hired to play music at Zentral on the night of May 21 when the suspected transmission happened, while health authorities on Sunday said some patrons at Iron Fairies had removed their masks while dancing. The government source said if a disc jockey interacted with customers while playing music, such as allowing customers to select songs and broadcast messages, such circumstances were very likely to be considered as a live performance. But if a disc jockey was only playing background music in a room without any interaction with others, that would not be considered as a live performance. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which is responsible for social-distancing regulations at eateries and bars, told the Post it was looking into the operating situation of the two bars during the time period in question but did not say whether any rules were violated. “Whether an activity is considered as a live performance will be determined by relevant facts and the individual situation,” the department said. Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said more than 200 people who were at the nightclubs had yet to come forward for mandatory testing on or before the deadline on Monday. Separately, one more new case was added to a cluster at a McDonald’s outlet in Tai Koo Shing, involving a woman working as a warehouse operator at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Chuang said the woman had visited the same staff canteen at around the same time as two previously reported cases who also worked at the exhibition centre. Schools on Tuesday reported 27 positive cases involving 20 students and seven staff.