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Social distancing to be relaxed

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)   The Government plans to adjust the social distancing measures for restaurants based on staff and customers having been vaccinated against COVID-19 and patrons using the LeaveHomeSafe mobile application.   Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the statement during a press conference today, noting that Hong Kong was entering a new phase in its fight against the virus.   Under the “vaccine bubble”, the number of people allowed to be seated together at one table in restaurants will be increased from four to six, and their dine-in service can be extended from 10pm to midnight on the condition that all staff have been vaccinated and patrons use the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app.   Customers using the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app when entering the eatery would no longer need to fill in their personal information on a paper form.   If all the restaurant staff are fully vaccinated with both doses, plus 14 days for

Infection control at gyms tightened

The Government today announced that it will tighten infection control measures in fitness centres from March 12 for a period of six days till March 17.   People in the fitness centres will be required to wear a mask at all times, except when having a shower or consuming food or drink at a table in catering premises. Other requirements currently in place will remain unchanged.   The Food & Health Bureau explained that in view of the recent large-scale coronavirus outbreak in fitness centres, it had to tighten infection control measures with immediate effect to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, in particular reinstating the mask-on requirement.   In all circumstances, particularly in an indoor setting, not wearing a mask is a high-risk behaviour and is prone to virus infection or transmission.   The bureau also pointed out that the first case of the fitness centre cluster was detected through regular testing required under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation.   It stated that many of the confirmed cases in this cluster were in good health all along and did not show any symptoms when they were confirmed positive for COVID-19.   This demonstrated that high-risk groups such as staff of fitness centres and other scheduled premises who have frequent contact with others should undergo regular testing in order to break the transmission chain in the community successfully.   The Government announced earlier that all staff of scheduled premises, including those of fitness centres, were included as a vaccination priority group under the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.   Relevant staff are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible as a higher proportion of people receiving vaccination in the community will strengthen the control of the epidemic situation, thus creating the conditions for relaxing social distancing measures.   The bureau appealed to fitness centres to strictly comply with the requirements, including arranging for their staff to undergo testing once every 14 days. They can make an appointment for free testing at a community testing centre.   The Government emphasised that it will closely monitor the epidemic development and the compliance situation of infection control measures by fitness centres.   It added that if necessary, it would not exclude the possibility of adopting more stringent measures to contain the epidemic, including requiring fitness centre staff to undergo testing at more frequent intervals or the closure of all fitness centres.   Managers of fitness centres who contravene the statutory requirements under the regulation are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months’ imprisonment.
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