Hong Kong is set to reopen barbeque pits and scrap restrictions on operating hours for restaurants, clubs and bars as part of its latest loosening of Covid-19 rules.
Addressing reporters at a press conference on Thursday, health authorities said the new measures would come into effect between next Thursday and November 16.
Government departments overseeing the city’s public barbeque pits will “start to reopen the relevant facilities” from next Thursday, Undersecretary for Health Libby Lee said.
She said that as restaurants were already being allowed to seat up to 12 people at a table, a BBQ gathering – taking place outdoors – would “not present a higher risk than in a restaurant.”
Limits on the operating hours of restaurants and bars will also be removed. Currently, restaurants are allowed to open only until midnight, while bars can operate until 2 a.m.
Separately, people will be able to remove their facemasks whilst taking photos at premises such as conference rooms, religious sites, places of entertainment and hotels: “This means attendees of weddings can remove their masks for photo-taking,” Lee said.
“Our relaxation of Covid-19 policies is thanks to everybody’s hard work and cooperation with the anti-epidemic strategies,” Lee said. She said that the public should get their vaccine jabs if they have not already, both against Covid-19 and the influenza.
Hong Kong recorded another 6,062 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, including 375 imported cases.
The Centre for Health Protection’s Chuang Shuk-kwan said the number of Covid-19 cases in the city had increased slightly – by 5.4 per cent – when comparing this week’s numbers with the previous week.
Week-on-week figures for daily imported cases, meanwhile, increased by around 10 per cent. Over half of these positive cases were found at the airport upon arrival, Chuang added.
Daily fatalities among Covid-19 patients have remained stable, she said, with four to 10 deaths a day in the past week.
Hong Kong still requires nearly a dozen Covid-19 tests for international arrivals, enforces a group gathering limit of 12 in public, makes mask wearing compulsory, and requires tracing apps for entering certain premises such as restaurants.
Hong Kong’s Covid-19 government dashboard reports a total of 10,358 deaths and 1,897,693 since the onset of the pandemic as of Thursday.