Hong Kong’s fitness centres will be allowed to hold exercise classes of up to 12 people under new rules dependant on the Covid-19 vaccine take-up of staff and clients, the government announced on Tuesday.

The new “vaccine bubble” plan mean gyms will be allowed to expand the number of participants in exercises classes, if the premises reach the government’s ventilation standards and all staff members have been fully vaccinated.

gym fitness
Photo: Pxhere.

Class participants will need be required to exercise while wearing a face mask if the class includes people who have not been fully vaccinated. Classes which include only fully-vaccinated participants will be allowed to exercise without a mask.

Gym staff members who are unable to become fully vaccinated due to medical reasons must wear a face mask and undergo regular testing.

All other social distancing measures, including the four-person limit on social gatherings and mandatory mask-wearing in public places, will remain in place for another fortnight.

coronavirus covid-19 microscope virus cell
Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles. File photo: NIAID-RML.

The government cited the the need to protect the community from more infectious variants of the Covid-19 for extending the measures. “Despite the extremely stringent measures implemented in Hong Kong to prevent importation of cases, a handful of local cases may still emerge,” a Food and Health Bureau spokesperson said.  

“To prevent an epidemic outbreak in the community, we need to maintain most of the social distancing measures currently in place.”

Hong Kong reported four new infections on Tuesday, all of which were imported. The city also announced its first community infection with an unknown origin earlier this week, the first in around two months.

Booster shots

Earlier on Tuesday, leader Carrie Lam said she will soon meet with medical experts from the government’s Centre for Health Protection to discuss the rolling out of booster shots for fully-vaccinated Hongkongers.

covid-19 coronavirus vaccine
A man gets his Covid-19 vaccine in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

She added that the city’s vaccination rate was “still not good.”

“You remember that we have been aiming to achieve at least 70 per cent by the end of September. We did not meet that target,” Lam said.

As of Wednesday evening, around 4.3 million people have been fully vaccinated. Vaccinations are currently available to people aged 12 and above.

In all, Hong Kong has recorded 12,273 Covid-19 infections and 213 deaths.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.