Coronavirus: Hong Kong bars new arrivals from cinemas, public skating rinks in latest backtrack on vaccine pass

  • Active checks have been dropped from venues such as theme parks, and inbound travellers with an amber code are allowed access to such premises with ‘mask-on’ activities
  • But cinemas and rinks requiring masks, previously thought to be covered under new round of eased curbs, remain off-limits to new arrivals

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Cinemas and other performance venues that permit food or drink are off-limits to new arrivals for the first three days. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Cinema-goers and visitors to public skating rinks must still undergo Covid-19 vaccine pass checks, Hong Kong authorities have said in a last-minute backtrack on eased pandemic curbs that implies such venues remain off-limits to newly arrived travellers.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday night, health authorities said staff members at all public skating rinks and cinemas should continue to check patrons’ vaccination records.

The move was tightened from an announcement last week suggesting vaccine pass checks would not be mandatory in ice-skating rinks where patrons were required to wear masks and at cinemas where eating and drinking were still prohibited.

Coronavirus: Hong Kong leader dismisses calls to drop health code for travellers and mask-wearing rules

Authorities earlier came under fire for such criteria with critics saying they would confuse visitors and venue operators.

The vaccine pass checks centre on the government’s risk-exposure “Leave Home Safe” app, which displays colour codes according to users’ inoculation status. A blue code, signalling a vaccinated individual, grants access to all premises, while a yellow one, issued to overseas arrivals during their first three days in the city, bars entry to “mask-off” places such as bars and restaurants.

Authorities earlier indicated that those with an amber code, including inbound travellers serving the three-day medical surveillance period under the “0+3” model, will be allowed to enter venues that do not require vaccine pass checks. Cinemas and skating rinks that require mask-wearing at all times were initially included under this category.

Visitors to public skating rinks are still required to show their vaccination records. Photo: Sam Tsang

The spokesman on Wednesday said the latest change was to “facilitate differentiation” among the public and “avoid public confusion during actual operations”.

Under the new round of eased social-distancing measures which took effect on Thursday, travellers with an amber code are allowed access to premises with “mask-on” activities and no active checks for the vaccine pass. An active check involves a second scan of a user’s health code on the “Leave Home Safe” app, whereupon a beep will indicate clearance for entry.

The policy on dropped active checks has been extended to theme parks, museums, exhibition halls, mahjong parlours, hair salons and places of worship. Visitors are only required to scan a QR code at the door with their “Leave Home Safe” app before entering.

Amber-code holders – apart from being barred from cinemas and skating rinks – are prohibited from entering “mask-off” venues requiring an active vaccine pass check, such as eateries and nightlife spots.

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