Hong Kong announced Tuesday the further relaxation of social distancing measures as new confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped to the lowest in more than two months.
Starting Friday, the cap on group gatherings will be loosened to four people from two for seven days and the number of diners allowed to sit together at restaurants will also be raised to four, Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health of the government of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said at a press briefing Tuesday noon.
Some entertainment venues will also reopen from Friday, Chan added.
However, high-risk premises, including party rooms, night entertainment venues and swimming pools, will temporarily remain shut, but the government will reopen them in the next phase unless the epidemic situation reverses, Chan said.
Also at the press conference, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR government Edward Yau said Hong Kong is in discussion with 11 countries to launch travel bubbles, including Germany, Japan and Thailand, and suggested the use of health codes to facilitate the travel opening-up.
The COVID-19 spread has slowed down significantly in Hong Kong with new local infections on a losing streak.
Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection reported six confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, including three local infections. The figure retreated further from 11 new cases on Monday and marked the lowest daily increase since the third wave of epidemic starting early July.
The decline in new cases is attributable to anti-epidemic efforts of the HKSAR government, which has rolled out stringent control measures and stepped up screening asymptomatic virus carriers.
With the support of the central government, the HKSAR government launched a universal community testing program a week ago. About 1.2 million people have so far gotten tested, with 16 COVID-19 patients found.
COVID-19 has infected 4,895 people and caused 98 deaths in Hong Kong. Currently, 220 patients are hospitalized, with 21 in critical condition.