- Kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools will be allowed to operate on a half-day basis as Covid-19 cases go down
- The government may also allow religious gatherings in time for Easter
The Education Bureau announced on Friday that two-thirds of the student population in all of Hong Kong’s primary and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens, would be allowed to return to campus for half-day sessions after the Easter holiday ends on April 9.
Secondary schools can arrange for students to return either in the morning or in the afternoon, but students cannot return on a full-day basis, to avoid them gathering together at lunchtime. Only morning classes will be allowed at primary schools. The bureau will provide details for all schools next week.
School grounds have been shut for much of the past year because of the Covid-19 crisis, with most students taking lessons online.
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Under the revised arrangements introduced after the Lunar New Year holiday in late February, all schools were allowed to bring back up to a third of their student population for half-day sessions.
The city lifted a raft of restrictions on February 18, allowing the reopening of all sports venues, fitness centres, beauty and massage parlours, cinemas, and some entertainment facilities. Public performance venues such as concert halls, theme parks, and exhibition centres could also resume operations.
Officials are also considering allowing church gatherings in time for the Easter holiday, with the decision dependent on the coronavirus situation stabilising over the next few days.
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The review of existing curbs was raised after Hong Kong on Thursday marked its first day without an untraceable infection since the fourth wave began in mid-November last year. Nine infections confirmed that day took the city’s coronavirus caseload total to 11,428, with 204 related fatalities.
“We still have to be careful, and this is only the first day that we recorded zero untraceable cases again,” government pandemic adviser Professor David Hui Shu-cheong told a radio show. “If this situation [of no untraceable cases] continues for another seven or 10 days, then we could really lift more restrictions, such as allowing more people to go to church and loosening dining restrictions from four to six people per table.”
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The government is still deciding whether the maximum capacity for religious gatherings should be capped at half or a third of the premises’ permitted capacity. Attendees would not be allowed to eat or drink during services, the source said.
It is understood the Executive Council is set to endorse the suggestions for religious gatherings next Tuesday at the earliest.
Churches would be expected to follow stringent measures on sanitising and temperature checks, while also recording the details of those attending gatherings for tracing purposes.