Hong Kong and Singapore to Relax Covid-19 Measures on Friday

The two Asian cities are in different stages of reopening, but both will be lifting major restrictions later this week. Here’s a quick explainer on what that means.

After dark in the Hong Kong neighborhood of Mong Kok. (Photo: Anna Go/Unsplash)

Hong Kong

The territory’s top health official Sophia Chan announced yesterday that the limit on the number of people in public gatherings will be raised from eight to 50 people starting Friday, a measure that will remain in place for the next two weeks. Violators face a stiff HK$25,000 penalty and six months’ jail time, but there are various exceptions to the rule: commuters boarding a crowded bus or train need not fear as it does not apply on public transportation, at workplaces and healthcare facilities, during court proceedings, and at funerals.

As for wedding ceremonies, those held in churches or other religious settings are not subject to numerical restrictions so long as attendees take up only half the original seating capacity of the venue. Wedding receptions are once again allowed from June 19; those held in dining establishments can have more than 50 people.

And much to the relief of those in the catering industry, customer limits at restaurants will be completely lifted just in time for Fathers’ Day. Bars, pubs, and nightclubs are easing restrictions as well: live performances and dancing can resume, and while these entertainment venues must be kept at 50 percent capacity, the maximum number of people allowed at each table has been doubled from four to eight. Similarly, karaoke lounges will be doubling the limit on customers per room to 16.

 

The Singapore skyline seen from high above Orchard Road. (Photo: Mike Enerio/Unsplash)

Singapore

Friday also marks a major milestone for the Lion City in its coronavirus response, as it will enter Phase 2 of its reopening strategy. From June 19, social gatherings of up to five people are permitted in public, and households will be able to receive a maximum of five visitors at any one time. Can’t wait to exchange vows? Wedding ceremonies of up to 10 people (excluding the officiate) are allowed at home and the Registry of Marriages or Registry of Muslim Marriages. All healthcare services can resume, as well as face-to-face visits at nursing and welfare homes for the elderly. Up to 20 people—double the current number—will be able to attend a wake or funeral.

Singapore residents can look forward to enjoying many of their regular pastimes. Going to the mall will once again become possible, as retail businesses have permission to reopen physical outlets, while eateries can resume dine-in services with tables spaced at least one meter apart and a maximum of five people per table. However, live music, TV, and video screenings are not yet permitted in any F&B outlet, and the sale and consumption of alcohol must end at 10:30 p.m. each night.

Public recreational facilities such as stadiums, swimming pools, beaches, and playgrounds are allowed to reopen, as are gyms and bowling centers. Spas can operate too, along with home-based massage services. Private classes, except for singing or voice training sessions, are back on the table; educational institutions at all levels will reopen soon, with students returning to class on a daily basis from June 29.

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