Hong Kong is relaxing strict Covid-19 restrictions introduced back in July. From Friday, beaches will reopen and more people will be able to sit together in bars.
Sophia Chan, the Chinese special administrative region’s health secretary, said that six people would be allowed to sit together in restaurants, up from four. Bars will be able to seat four people together, up from two. The current midnight closing time for cafés and restaurants will be extended to 2am.
Chan said public beaches would reopen on Nov 3, with social distancing measures, including masks and bans on large gatherings, still in place.
“The epidemic situation has continued to subside over the past two weeks,” Chan told a news briefing. She emphasised that residents need to remain vigilant as there are still unknown transmission chains in the community.
The relaxation comes as the Asian financial hub has maintained single digit or no new local cases in recent weeks. However, the city continues to register imported cases, says Reuters.
“Globally, there is a worsening epidemic situation that may continue to pose some public health risk to Hong Kong,” Chan said.
The government began to relax restrictions on dining, sports facilities and theme parks in September after a mass testing programme organised by the Chinese government screened 1.8 million people – almost a quarter of Hong Kong’s population – and found 42 cases.
Singapore and Hong Kong announced on Oct 15 that they have reached an agreement to establish a bilateral air travel bubble. There will be no quarantine for travellers if they test negative for Covid-19 on PCR tests.
Unlike green lane or fast lane arrangements between other destinations, there will be no restrictions on travel purpose, paving the way for leisure travellers to visit each city.
Many Singaporeans who have been disappointed in their plans to visit home so many times in 2020 are seizing the opportunity to head home to the city state.
“I’m looking forward to eating local food. I think for us, being away from Singapore for so many years, that is the one thing that we miss,” Joanne Tan told Channel NewsAsia. “For the past year, I’ve been compiling a list of everything I’ll have to eat.”