- Residents will be allowed to take their masks off at outdoor sports venues, while swimming pools and water playgrounds will be reopened
- The city recently relaxed travel rules, allowing international travellers to fly in
Hong Kong will ease more social-distancing restrictions this Thursday, including allowing eight diners per table at restaurants, up from the current four, with the city’s leader pointing to an improved coronavirus situation.
From Thursday, residents will also be allowed to take their masks off at outdoor sports venues, including basketball courts and tennis courts, while swimming pools, beaches and water playgrounds will be reopened.
“Taking into account that the pandemic situation is under control, I have decided to allow some earlier relaxations, especially for diners per table as Mother’s Day is coming,” Lam said.
Meeting the press before the weekly meeting of her de facto cabinet, the Executive Council, Lam on Tuesday also said the second stage of relaxations was on track for May 19, including the reopening of all previously closed operations, such as bars, party rooms, karaoke lounges, mahjong parlours, nightclubs and cruises.
By that stage, bars will be allowed to operate until 2am, while restaurants can extend service hours from the current 10pm to midnight. Up to 120 people will also be allowed for wedding banquets, from the current 20.
An operating capacity limit of 50 per cent for cinemas and some other premises will be raised to 85 per cent.
Hong Kong has earlier eased other social-distancing rules this month. From Sunday, international travellers have been allowed to fly in, and the threshold for suspending incoming flights found to be carrying infected passengers has also been relaxed.
Aircrew members can now undergo shorter mandatory quarantine at hotels.
But there were calls to allow home quarantine for returning Hong Kong residents or some arriving visitors. Some medical experts have also called for the flight suspension arrangement to be abolished.
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On Monday, Hong Kong reported 283 new Covid-19 cases, down from 300 the day before. It was also the first time the city’s daily caseload had fallen below the 300 mark in about three months.
But health officials have warned of a possible rebound in cases when kindergartens and secondary schools resume in-person classes on Tuesday.