Hong Kong has further eased its Covid-related curbs on visitors and returning residents, allowing them as of Thursday to enter theme parks, museums and some other places of entertainment from their first day in the city.

But in a last-minute policy change, skating rinks and cinemas remain on the list of venues – including bars and restaurants – from which they remain excluded for three days.

covid 19 red code amber code
Red code and amber code. File photo: GovHK.

An updated Vaccine Pass policy announced last week no longer requires a range of premises to check patrons’ vaccine records. They include game centres, clubhouses, event venues, hair salons, religious premises, and places of “amusement” or “public entertainment,” including bowling alleys, billiards halls, theme parks and museums.

This implies that new arrivals during their first three days in the city – who are assigned with an amber Vaccine Pass QR code – are permitted to visit these venues.

They remain barred from entering places that actively check vaccine codes, such as bars, restaurants and gyms. Public ice skating rinks, cinemas and performance venues that permit food or drink are also off-limits for the first three days.

Which venue requires active Vaccine Pass checks? – click to view
Premises with active Vaccine Pass checks
(Amber code holders are barred)
Premises without active Vaccine Pass checks
(Amber code holders can enter)
Catering premisesGame centre
Bar/PubPlace of amusement (eg. bowling alleys)
BathhousePlace of public entertainment (eg. museums)
Fitness centreClub-house
Public skating rinkMahjong-tin kau premises
CinemaEvent venues
Performance venue permitting food or drinkBarber shop/Hair salon
Party roomReligious premises
Beauty parlour and Massage establishmentShopping mall
ClubsDepartment store
Sports premisesSupermarket
Swimming pool
Cruise ship

Visitors and returnees must take a series of Covid tests. For those who get a negative PCR result after the third day, the code turns blue and this removes all restrictions.

Cinemas, ice skating rinks excluded

Under Secretary for Health Libby Lee, when announcing the eased restrictions on November 10, said ice rinks which require facemasks and cinemas that prohibit food or drink could drop “active checking.”

Golden Scene cinema
Golden Scene cinema in Kennedy Town. File photo: Louise Delmotte/HKFP.

However, in a statement published on Wednesday night – less than two hours before the new measures kicked in – the Health Bureau backtracked and required all public skating rinks and cinemas to continue checking vaccination codes.

The bureau said it was “to facilitate differentiation by members of the public and avoid public’s confusion during actual operation.”

Since the start of the pandemic the government has gradually eased restrictions on arrivals which were once among the world’s strictest and for a time mandated three weeks of hotel quarantine. But it is under pressure from the tourism and leisure sectors to follow the example of rival visitor destinations and drop all restrictions.

Authorities have said they are planning to exempt travellers in tour groups from some amber code restrictions “this month,” without providing an exact timeline.

Hong Kong has recorded just over two million infections and 10,577 deaths, according to the government’s Covid-19 dashboard.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.