Hong Kong Reopens Bars, Nightclubs Under New Rules

Capacity limits will be determined by the vaccination status of both staff members and patrons.

A main junction below the nightlife precinct of Lan Kwai Fong. (Photo: Tim Durgan/Unsplash)

Hong Kong authorities are taking a new approach to easing social distancing measures in a bid to boost the low uptake of coronavirus vaccines in the territory. From tomorrow, entertainment venues — including bars, pubs, nightclubs, karaoke parlors, and party rooms — will be able to reopen under certain conditions. Staff members and all customers must have received at least a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with patrons required to use the government’s LeaveHomeSafe contact tracing app to check in. These places will be allowed to operate until 2 a.m. at half capacity. Pubs and clubs can only seat two people at each table, while party rooms and karaoke parlors are limited to four patrons per table.

Top officials have announced plans to introduce a new mobile app for dining and entertainment venues to scan customers’ vaccination records, with QR codes in three distinct colors, indicating whether users are unvaccinated or partially or fully inoculated against the virus.

The new “vaccine bubble” plan will see restaurants into several tiers, depending on the vaccination status of both diners and staff members, and whether LeaveHomeSafe is required for customers (only over-65s and accompanied children below the age of 15 are exempt). Those in the top two tiers will be able to set aside a specific area or “clean zone” where the relaxed measures can take effect.

Eateries whose staff members have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine — and enforce the use of LeaveHomeSafe — will have their opening hours extended until midnight, with overall capacity set at 50 percent and a maximum of six diners at each table. Those with fully vaccinated staff and customers will be allowed to operate until 2 a.m. and seat up to eight people per table at 75 percent capacity.

It is not yet known if these new rules will apply to visitors from Singapore when the upcoming travel bubble is launched, as travelers from the Lion City do not need to be vaccinated to enter Hong Kong.

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