The Hong Kong government will implement stricter social distancing measures from Saturday, including limits on restaurants, bars, nightclubs, fitness centres, karaoke rooms, and cinemas, according to an announcement yesterday.

Restaurants will seat no more than eight customers at a table and operate at 60% of their seating capacity. Clubs and nightclubs will be allowed to have no more than four patrons at a table, according to new restrictions.

Fitness centres will also be ordered to reduce their maximum class sizes to eight. Party rooms and karaoke establishments will be capped at eight customers per room. Eating is also banned in cinemas and at live performances. Public gathering restrictions will remain the same, allowing 50 people to gather in public spaces.

The government has also issued letters to smaller catering businesses in light of the recent clusters to remind them to “take the infection control and public health measures that we have recommended,” urging both customers and operators to actively prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

The new restrictions, which will be implemented until 24 July, come after 62 locally transmitted cases were reported in the last three days, with clusters of cases linked to restaurants in Jordan and Choi Hung, and an elderly care home in Tsz Wan Shan. A total of 42 new cases, 34 of them local, were reported yesterday alone, marking a record number of daily cases since late March.

There are currently six taxi drivers who have been confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19, with the Centre of Health Production (CHP) set to publish the licence plates of those affected on their website. The government also urged taxi drivers with symptoms to seek medical attention and offered testing to asymptomatic drivers.

Health experts have cited major concerns that a third wave of coronavirus infections could be on the horizon. “Many of these cases do not have identifiable sources of infection,” Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, the head of the CHP Communicable Disease Branch, stated to South China Morning Post earlier this week.

The rise of infections could negatively impact the catering industry, as well as the taxi industry, both of which have been hard-hit by last year’s protests and the coronavirus pandemic.


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