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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

Virus testing services enhanced

The Government today said the supply of COVID-19 testing services is being further enhanced to cope with the increasing demand for testing in order to meet anti-epidemic goals and facilitate the public.   The move was made having regard to the recent higher risk of transmission and infection in different premises or groups and the implementation of strengthened anti-epidemic measures for the resumption of economic and social activities.   Various groups can undergo testing through the free testing service and other channels.   At present, employees of scheduled premises and catering businesses, construction site workers, school staff, as well as local residents and staff subject to compulsory testing may receive free testing at community testing centres.   The number of tests available for appointments at community testing centres has been greatly increased to over 32,000 per day.   The appointment rate of the city's 19 community testing centres for the next seven days is only about 30%, with plenty of places available to meet the demand.   Moreover, about 20 mobile specimen collection stations are in service to provide free testing to the public. Some of them are dedicated to providing services to staff in catering businesses and scheduled premises under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation only.   The testing capacity should be sufficient to meet the demand of the relevant sectors. Staff from these sectors may get tested for free at community testing centres and mobile specimen collection stations in various districts.   In addition, they may also undergo testing through other channels, including obtaining deep throat saliva (DTS) collection packs at post offices, MTR stations or designated Hospital Authority (HA) general outpatient clinics, and return the DTS specimen to one of the more than 80 designated collection points.   Over the past few weeks, the Government has distributed an average of some 60,000 specimen collection packs daily, and the number of specimen bottles collected per day was about 27,000, which is less than half of the amount distributed.   The Government calls on the public and organisations to refrain from collecting more packs than needed so that others in need can also obtain them for testing.       Regarding the prolonged turnaround time of an HA testing contractor caused by an influx of testing demand within a short period of time, according to the concerned laboratory's report, the backlog has been cleared and the turnaround time for testing results has resumed normal to within 48 hours as per the contract requirement.   The Government and HA have increased the number of contractors and streamlined the distribution of the specimen bottles to different contractors. At present, most of the citizens who return the DTS specimen bottles can receive testing results within two to three days.
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