Coronavirus: Hong Kong to relax social distancing rules and may start travel bubble with countries like South Korea, Thailand and Japan

  • Restaurants can seat four people per table and sports venues will reopen as Covid-19 case numbers stabilise 
  • The third wave of the pandemic has been ongoing for two months 
South China Morning Post |
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The number of people allowed to sit together at restaurants in Hong Kong will rise to four from Friday. Photo: SCMP/ K.Y. Cheng

As Covid-19 cases continue to drop, Hong Kong will relax its social-distancing rules for restaurants, public gatherings and sports venues beginning Friday. The government also said that if the virus continues to be kept under control, places like theme parks and exhibition venues could be next on the list to open.

The administration also revealed it was in discussion with about 11 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Germany, France and Switzerland, on forming travel bubbles.

“We need to ensure that a coronavirus test – that is mutually recognised – can be carried out before travelling, and another verification is needed after arrival. Our health authorities would then proceed to further discussion with those countries,” Edward Yau Tang-wah, the commerce minister, said.

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The news came as sources revealed the city was facing just six new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.

Confirming an earlier SCMP report, officials said that from Friday, up to four people would be allowed per table in restaurants, as well as to meet in public. 

A number of closed premises would be allowed to reopen, including museums, mahjong parlours, ice-skating rinks, as well as most indoor and outdoor sport facilities, but not swimming pools.

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But party rooms, karaoke and nightclubs have to remain closed, health minister Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said, although the government would consider relaxing the regulation if the situation remained stable.

“Unless there is a great resurgence of cases, the government will continue to relax more social-distancing measures,” she said.

“The public should stay alert and not be complacent. The third wave has been going on for two months and is still continuing, as we still have silent carriers in the community.”

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