Hong Kong imposes new virus restrictions to battle fourth wave

HONG KONG: Hong Kong will ban evening dining at restaurants and close fitness centres, the city’s leader said Tuesday, as part of new measures aimed at stemming a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the rules aim to reduce the “number of people on the streets”, echoing moves taken by authorities when cases spiked earlier this year.

Dining out will be banned after 6pm, beauty and massage parlours will be forced to close, and civil servants would be asked to work from home, she said.

Hong Kong’s strict social distancing measures have largely helped keep infections to under 7000 in the city of 7.5 million, with 112 deaths.

But daily recorded cases have risen again to more than 100 on several occasions in recent weeks, the highest level since July.

Speaking ahead of a weekly meeting with policy advisers, Lam said “the strictness of social distancing measures must at least return to the level” of the outbreak’s peak in the city in July and August.

Schools, bars and nightclubs have already been ordered to close.

Lam did not say when the measures would come into effect but added that the city’s health minister Sophia Chan would announce further details later on Tuesday.

Last week Hong Kong reimposed social distancing measures at some of their strictest levels since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Restrictions on public gatherings were tightened with a maximum of two people allowed to meet, down from four.

Authorities have also launched a hotline for residents to report social distancing breaches.