Existing social distancing measures including entering bars/pubs with 24-hour RAT negative results extended till 13th July

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27th June 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Government announced today the gazettal of extension of existing social distancing measures in accordance with the public health emergency regulations under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance, which will be effective from 30th June to 13th July.

Currently, all catering and scheduled premises are allowed to re-open. With more frequent traffic and social interactions, the number of daily new cases in Hong Kong has continued its upward trend and a number of infection clusters have successively emerged. Data from sewage surveillance has also indicated a rise in viral load across various districts. Although the number of hospitalised patients has increased, the figure stays at a relatively low level for the time being and there is no sign of significant increase in severe cases or deaths. The Government will continue to closely monitor the overall epidemic development, and take containment measures to sustain its effort in reducing the risk of an epidemic rebound.

In view of the latest epidemic trend and given that the effective period of the measures in the coming cycle will span to the next government term, having consulted the Chief Executive-elect’s Office and with its consent, the Government decided to extend the existing social distancing measures for 14 days with effect from June 30. This includes continuing to require all patrons of bars, pubs, clubs and nightclubs to undergo a test and obtain a negative result before entering the relevant premises in order to better contain virus transmission.

 The Government reminded citizens again that, except for scenarios with exemption, the basic requirement for ordinary persons to enter premises applicable to Vaccine Pass is now three doses of COVID-19 vaccine (see implementation arrangements for Vaccine Pass). All persons-in-charge of specified premises are also required to put up a notice, whereas persons entering premises under “active checking” should present the relevant QR code of their vaccination records, medical exemption certificates or recovery records to the persons-in-charge for checking. The arrangement for using “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile application in various premises will remain in place.

To avoid a substantial epidemic rebound, the Government strongly urged citizens to vigilantly observe all applicable social distancing measures. Eligible persons, especially the elderly aged 60 or above, should receive the fourth dose of vaccine as quickly as practicable. Other persons should also receive three doses of vaccine as early as possible before local epidemic situation experiences any potential drastic change, so as to substantially reduce the risk of severe cases or deaths, thereby protecting themselves and their family members.

Specific measures to be in force during the period from 30th June to 13th July include:

(I) Catering business

(1) From 0am to 4.59am every day, save for specific premises (see Annex 2), a person responsible for carrying on a catering business must continue to cease selling or supplying food or drink for consumption on the premises of the business, and close any premises or part of the premises (whichever is applicable) on which food or drink is sold or supplied by the business for consumption on the premises. The premises concerned may still sell or supply food and/or drink for takeaway services and deliveries. A person responsible for carrying on a catering business is also required to put up a notice at the entrance to the catering premises to remind patrons that food or drink should not be consumed in areas adjacent to the catering premises. All patrons who enter the bar/pub zone inside a catering premises must continue to present proof of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result obtained within 24 hours before entering the relevant zone, otherwise they should be denied entry to the relevant zone. The maximum number of persons per table for catering premises will be eight, and banquets with no more than 120 persons will be allowed. Live performance and dancing activity will remain prohibited therein.

(2) Bars/pubs may open every day from 5am to 1.59am of the subsequent day with a maximum number of four persons per table and the total number of patrons capped at 75 per cent of their capacity. Live performance and dancing activity will remain prohibited therein. All patrons of bars/pubs must continue to present proof of a negative RAT result obtained within 24 hours before entering the relevant premises, otherwise they should be denied entry.

(3) Other requirements and restrictions on catering premises and bars/pubs will continue to remain in force, including that all patrons, when they are away from the table, must not consume food or drink and must wear a mask, and they must scan the “LeaveHomeSafe” venue QR code using the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile application on their mobile phones/other mobile devices before entering the premises (excluding persons who only order takeaway). Operators of catering premises and bars/pubs are required to use the latest “QR Code Verification Scanner” mobile application provided by the Government to scan the QR code of a patron’s vaccination record, medical exemption certificate or recovery record.

(II) Scheduled premises

(4) For swimming pools, sports premises, fitness centres, beauty parlours and massage establishments, places of public entertainment, places of amusement, amusement game centres, event premises, religious premises, barber shops/hair salons, bathhouses, party rooms, clubs/nightclubs, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises and cruise ships, managers must comply with the relevant restrictions under Cap. 599F. In particular, live performance and dancing activity remain prohibited in clubs/nightclubs, and their patrons should continue to be denied entry unless they can present proof of a negative RAT result obtained within 24 hours before entering the relevant premises. Staff members and patrons alike must wear a mask at all times save for the exempted circumstances. Citizens are allowed not to wear masks when they are exercising in sports premises as well as fitness centres which meet the requirement on air change.

(5) For club-houses and hotels or guesthouses, managers must continue to comply with the relevant restrictions under Cap. 599F, and the catering premises, bars/pubs and scheduled premises therein must comply with all applicable requirements.

(6) For shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets and markets, the manager/person-in-charge must continue to comply with the relevant restrictions under Cap. 599F, including fulfilling the relevant requirements on “LeaveHomeSafe” and the Vaccine Pass under “passive checking”.

(7) The restriction on the number of persons allowed in premises such as cinemas, performance venues, museums, event premises and religious premises etc. will remain at 85 per cent of their capacity. Patrons may eat and drink in cinema houses.

(III) Mask-wearing requirement

(8) The mandatory mask-wearing requirement under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) Regulation (Cap. 599I) will be extended. A person must wear a mask all the time when the person is boarding or on board a public transport carrier, is entering or present in an MTR paid area, or is entering or present in a specified public place. Citizens are allowed not to wear masks if they are present in outdoor public places in country parks and special areas as defined in section 2 of the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208), or conducting strenuous physical activity (e.g. exercising or jogging) in outdoor public places.

(9) Under Cap. 599I, if a person does not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement, an authorised person may deny that person from boarding a public transport carrier or entering the area concerned, as well as require that person to wear a mask and disembark from the carrier or leave the said area. A person in contravention of the relevant provision commits an offence and the maximum penalty is a fine at level 3 ($10,000). In addition, authorised public officers may issue penalty notices to persons who do not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement and such persons may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty at $5,000.

(IV) Group gatherings

(10) Unless exempted, group gatherings of more than four persons in public places will remain prohibited. The requirement is also applicable to group gatherings in catering premises, bars/pubs and scheduled premises regulated under Cap. 599F in which the relevant requirements or restrictions are not complied with.

(11) Subject to relevant requirements, local group tours with no more than 30 persons may continue to be conducted. The relevant requirements include (1) relevant staff has received three doses of vaccine, and conducted a RAT on the same day before the commencement of local group tour activities; and (2) all tour participants have fulfilled the prevailing Vaccine Pass requirements. If all tour participants have conducted RAT on the same day before the commencement of local group tour activities, the relevant restriction on the number of participants will be relaxed to 100 persons.

(12) Any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of such a gathering; and knowingly allows the taking place of such gathering commits an offence under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G). Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months. Persons who participate in a prohibited group gathering may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty at HK$5,000.

A Government spokesman said, “The Government will keep up with its close monitoring of the overall epidemic development with a view to prudently guarding against an epidemic rebound while maintaining social and economic activities. We urged citizens to vigilantly observe anti-epidemic measures and immediately receive appropriate doses of COVID-19 vaccine, thereby properly preparing for potential change in epidemic situation and protecting public health.”

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