Penalties for violating coronavirus social-distancing rules will be increased from HK$2,000 to HK$5,000 from this Friday, the government has announced.

The increased fines will be applicable to those who violate the rules governing group gatherings, mandatory mask-wearing, quarantine requirements and compulsory testing notices.

Photo: Kaiser/HKFP.

Several emerging clusters have been identified and the government has urged close contacts to get tested as soon as possible. 12 people living on the fifth floor of block eight of Kwai Shing West Estate were tested positive on Sunday, and a total of 45 cases were found at a building site in LOHAS Park.

Compulsory testing direction notices were also issued to taxi drivers who intend to work between December 25 to January 23. Drivers must be tested between December 9 and 22.

Meanwhile, citizens can now get Covid-19 specimen collection packs from vending machines set up inside ten MTR stations from Monday onwards. Stations include Ngau Tau Kok, Kwai Fong, North Point, Tiu Keng Leng, Wong Chuk Hang, Tai Wai, Tai Po Market, Kowloon and Tsing Yi.

Approximately 10,000 packs will be supplied every day by a government contractor, according to the MTR Corporation.

Yuen Kwok-yung. File Photo: TVB screenshot.

Speaking on Commercial Radio on Sunday, leading microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung urged members of the public not to go out for Christmas celebrations: “Once you take off your mask, with a group of people together, things will definitely go wrong,” Yuen said.

He added that the fourth wave of coronavirus infections had been expected, as border controls have not been flawless, restaurants and bars have not followed hygiene regulations properly, and not many people were recording their day-to-day whereabouts with the LeaveHomeSafe app or other applications.

However, Yuen said that, if the city could go back to July’s level of social-distancing, he was “completely not worried” that the fourth wave of pandemic would spiral out of control.

Mega events cancellations

Event organisers had also announced cancellations or postponements of several upcoming mega events.

The 2017 race. Photo: Standard Chartered HK Marathon, via Facebook.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board announced that fireworks display over Victoria Harbour for New Year’s countdown would be cancelled.

The International Chinese New Year Night Parade will not be held in 2021 either while the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon has been rescheduled to October 24, 2021.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.