July 13, 2020
In view of the latest COVID-19 situation, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the Government will tighten social distancing measures and mandate that people wear masks on public transport from midnight on July 15. Outlining the anti-epidemic measures at a press conference this evening, Mrs Lam said based on the re-emergence of local cases and their spread and diversity in the past seven to eight days, it was the right time for tightening. “We naturally confess that this will have an adverse impact on business, especially with the closures of the 12 types of premises and for the first time the banning of eat-in for restaurants after 6pm. “But you will recall that in the last five, six months, whenever we talked about this subject, we said that we were in a situation of a three-way tug of war. One is we have to take account of the latest public health situation, secondly is the economic impact and thirdly is the social acceptability of the people. “I think based on what we have seen in the last seven or eight days about the re-emergence of local cases and the spread and the diversity of these local cases, this is the time for tightening, which means that it will affect business, which means that people will become more inconvenienced. “I will have to appeal to people, that I fully understand they want to go to the Book Fair, they want to go to restaurants, they want to meet friends, but this is a time for us to put our act together in order to fight this latest re-emergence of cases.” For catering businesses, the number of customers at restaurants at any one time must not exceed 50% of the normal seating capacity of the premises. A maximum of four people can be seated per table. From 6pm to 4.59am of the subsequent day, restaurants must cease to provide dine-in services and can only offer takeaway services and deliveries. Twelve scheduled premises including amusement game centres, fitness centres, party rooms, night clubs, karaoke establishments and club houses have to suspend operation. These requirements in respect of catering businesses and scheduled premises will take effect for seven days until July 21. Meanwhile, group gatherings in public places will be tightened from 50 to four unless exempted during the 14-day period from July 15 to 28. The Government will also adjust the limit on the number of people for exempted group gatherings. Not more than 20 people will be allowed during wedding ceremonies and listed company shareholders' meetings, at which no food or drink is served. The exemption on group gatherings during religious activities will also be removed. To prevent the spread of the disease through transport carriers, Mrs Lam announced two new regulations will be enacted. They will be also effective from July 15. Under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Wearing of Mask) (Public Transport) Regulation (Cap 599I), passengers must wear a mask when boarding or on board a public transport carrier, or when entering or present in a Mass Transit Railway paid area during the period from July 15 to 28. Those who fail to do so may be denied from boarding the public transport carrier or must leave the paid area. The maximum penalty is a fine of $5,000. The Prevention & Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances & Travellers) Regulation (Cap 599H) introduces a mechanism to empower the Secretary for Food & Health to impose conditions on cross-boundary conveyances arriving in Hong Kong from specified places and relevant travellers coming to Hong Kong on the conveyances. Travellers from specific high-risk places, air crew or sea crew have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result conducted by a recognised laboratory before arriving in Hong Kong.