Hong Kong has again tightened Covid-19 social distancing rules as the Omicron outbreak continues to escalate.

From Thursday, the compulsory mask requirement will be extended to cover country parks, and masks will be required by those who are exercising. Eating and drinking will be banned on all public transport – including ferries – and masks must be worn at all times in transit.

People queue up for Covid-19 tests at a sports ground in Hong Kong on February 23, 2022, as the city faces its worst coronavirus wave to date. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP.

Meanwhile, all restaurants will be able to seat groups of up to only two people when dining in – down from four. Under the existing rules, dine-in services must end at 6 p.m.

Current social distancing measures are set to continue until at least April 20.

Vaccine pass

Starting on Thursday, residents aged 12 or over will be barred from entering 23 categories of premises – including restaurants, malls, supermarkets and wet markets – unless they can present valid proof of at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the chief executive announced on Tuesday that the city will carry out compulsory Covid-19 testing of all citizens in March in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, which has gripped Hong Kong during the past two months.

Lam said that Covid-19 test samples “might” be sent to the mainland for processing, but dismissed privacy concerns, saying laws cannot get in the way of the fight against Covid-19.

The tightened measures were announced on the same day that the city pledged more than HK$54 billion to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic “on all fronts and at full speed.”

The city has recorded 75,248 cases of Covid-19 and at least 374 deaths since the pandemic began.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.