Hong Kong plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions following zero local cases

 Tuesday, June 22, 2021 


In light of Hong Kong reporting zero local coronavirus cases for 14 days in a row on Monday June 21, 2021, authorities have decided to adjust social distancing measures with quarantine rules set to be shortened to seven days soon.

From June 30, vaccinated residents who test positive for antibodies against COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine in hotel for seven days instead of the current 14 to 21 days, when they return to the city. This rule will also apply to non-residents coming to Hong Kong after officials firm up the details of the scheme.

Currently, non-Hong Kong residents can enter Hong Kong only if they are from low-risk countries like Australia and New Zealand. Flights from places deemed extremely high risk will continue to be banned, while flight suspensions could be announced in if mutated strains are found.

From Thursday, restaurants can run at full capacity for two weeks, up from 75 per cent, if all their staff is fully vaccinated and two-thirds of their customers have had at least the first dose of a vaccine. Dine-in services can still last till 2AM, and each table will be able to hold up to 12 guests, up from eight.

Eateries where all staff has at least the first shot of a vaccine and customers use the contact tracing LeaveHomeSafe app will be allowed to run at 75 per cent capacity, up from 50 per cent. Dine-in services that end at midnight with patrons per table capped at six, do not need custo be vaccinated but have to use the LeaveHomeSafe app.

Banquets will be capped at 180 guests, but the four-person cap on public gatherings remains.  Tables at bars and clubs can have up to four patrons, up from two, only if all staff and customers have had at least one jab. In karaoke lounge and mahjong parlours, the number is raised to eight per table if they meet vaccination requirements.

People attending gym class are no longer required to wear masks if they are fully vaccinated. Religious gatherings, weddings and business meetings are also allowed at a venue’s full capacity so long as two-thirds of the participants are inoculated.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement that residents can undergo the antibody test before flying out of Hong Kong so that when they return and test negative for the virus, their quarantine can be shortened to seven days. She also mentioned that life is gradually returning to normal since mid-April, with more businesses resuming operations, large-scale events like Art Basel held and the resumption of face-to-face classes in all schools, all of which are good signs for Hong Kong’s economic recovery.

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