Photo: Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels
In an attempt to snub Omicron transmission chains before they get out of hand, CE Carrie Lam announced a slew of hard handed social distancing measures earlier this week.
Here’s a handy summary:
Starting from midnight on Jan 7th, all large events, local tours, performances, were halted. Entertainment venues and F&B venues doubled down for another dry spell.
Closures and Curfews
Bars and pubs without restaurant licenses have been ordered to close completely for two weeks.
Restaurants close at 6pm with customer numbers limited even during working hours depending on mode of operation. B venues are allowed two per table, C venues 4 per table and D venues 6 per table.
While private clubs, hotels can keep restaurants open their bars may not. They are still subject to all other above rules.
LCSD venues and most ‘Scheduled Premises’ under Cap 599F were all ordered to close as well.
Together these include venues such as beauty parlours, arcades, theme parks, museums, libraries and pools among other community settings.
Cruises to nowhere have likewise been banned. On 6 Jan, the government suspended two holiday cruises and ordered all passengers to return for compulsory testing after nine of them were identified as close contacts of a preliminary-positive case linked to a suspected new Omicron cluster related to Moon Palace diner at Festival Walk.
As the ban did not officially take effect until 7 Jan, some holidaygoers did not know their cruises had been canceled until arriving at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, according to interviews with The Standard.
As a result of the new regulations, all performances have been rescheduled or cancelled. The Xiqu Centre in the West Kowloon Cultural District held performances as scheduled on 6 Jan but rescheduled all following performances. The M+ Museum in West Kowloon has been closed since 5 Jan following a preliminarily positive case visiting on 30 Dec.
The HK Cyclothon, which was supposed to begin on January 16, will unfortunately be cancelled for the 3rd year in a row.
Cantopop star Hins Cheung’s 8 upcoming shows were also cancelled, affecting around 34,000 people who already have tickets. It was later found on 8 Jan that a preliminarily positive case had attended Cheung’s final concert on 3 Jan. All who attended the concert have been asked to perform mandatory testing.
The expansion of Hong Kong’s vaccine bubble is still set to go ahead on February 24th, after which the unvaccinated will not be allowed to go into any LCSD venues, restaurants, wet markets, and other community centres.
Community vaccination centres have found a boom in uptake, especially among the elderly, who currently have the lowest vaccination rates in Hong Kong. Speaking with SCMP, a retiree surnamed Lau stated that he was averse to the vaccine for fear of side effects, but changed his mind as he would not longer be able to have dim sum in the mornings.
“If I am not allowed to have morning dim sum at the restaurant, I will lose the meaning in life and get stuck at home” said Lau.
At the moment, there are no concrete plans to enforce work-from-home or online school. On 8 Jan a spokesperson from the Education Bureau spoke out against online rumours that all schools will be asked to close by Wednesday 12 Jan.
“The EDB will continue to monitor the development of the epidemic, take into account the views of health experts and review the anti-epidemic measures and class arrangements in a timely manner. As usual, new arrangements, if any, will be announced as soon as possible”.
Additional reporting by Cyril Ma
This article was originally summarized in shorter (and more casuallier) form on our daily newsletter ‘High Tide’ which is sometimes funny, sometimes not, but definitely quick.
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