Hong Kong to Relax Covid-19 Rules on Feb. 18

Dine-in hours will be extended and recreational venues reopened from the seventh day of the Lunar New Year.

Tourists beside Victoria Harbour on the Avenue of Stars. (Photo: Mauricio Muñoz/Unsplash)

As Hong Kong reported just 17 new coronavirus cases yesterday — the lowest number in nearly three months — the territory’s health secretary Sophia Chan announced that current Covid-19 restrictions would be eased from next Thursday, February 18.

Gyms and beauty and massage parlors will be able to reopen, along with all indoor and outdoor sports venues. Other recreational facilities due to resume operations include cinemas, amusement parks, games arcades, and ice-skating rinks; museums and performing arts venues are also welcoming visitors from that date. But entertainment spots such as bars, nightclubs, and karaoke lounges will have to remain closed due to the higher risk of transmission.

It will once again be possible to eat out at dinnertime, as hours for dine-in services at restaurants will be extended until 10 p.m., with up to four people allowed to sit at each table. However, eateries are subject to new infection control measures: staff members must be tested for Covid-19 every 14 days, and it is mandatory for patrons to use the LeaveHomeSafe contact-tracing app or have their personal information recorded.

Chan added that government departments would fully resume normal public services on the same date. Those who visit public buildings or offices are urged to check in and check out with the LeaveHomeSafe app and wear surgical masks at all times.

These encouraging developments have reignited hope for the eventual launch of Hong Kong’s quarantine-free “travel bubble” with Singapore, which was meant to begin in late November. Health officials said less than 20 preliminary positive cases of the virus were logged yesterday, and that number will go into today’s count.

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