The government has announced that, from Friday, dine-in services will be allowed at restaurants in the evenings and entertainment venues such as cinemas will reopen as it eases some of the toughest social distancing restrictions implemented in the city to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday that beauty parlours and some outdoor sports venues will also reopen as the number of coronavirus cases seems to be dwindling in Hong Kong.
The city has seen a sharp spike in the number of coronavirus infections since the first week of July, prompting the government to impose a raft of tough restrictions, including a ban on gatherings involving more than two people.
Restaurants, which were restricted to providing only takeaway service after 6pm under the curbs, will be allowed to provide dine-in services until 9pm starting from Friday.
Chan said some people working on the night-shift like to go out and have food and there has been an outcry from these groups as they were feeling quite fatigued about the restrictions.
"Therefore, given the ... new normal situation and also the recent situation of the epidemic, we felt that we can extend [the dine-in service for] a few hours,” the health chief said.
Chan said they still had to limit the amount of time people are not wearing a face mask.
“And why 9pm and not 10, not 11, I think it is because we want to shorten the time people have [for] mask-off activities, but then balancing it with the need," she said. "So therefore, we think probably 9pm and not later is appropriate in this context."
"The two-person [limit] will remain for the same reason [as] we do not want to have too many people gathering together while they have masks off.”
People who exercise outdoors will be exempted from the rule mandating the wearing of face masks, said Chan. The mask rule will also cease to apply in country parks.
The health chief also reminded the people that it is important to remember that the virus is still out there in the community.
"When people are trying to go out and resume some of these activities ... they also have to take precautions themselves,” said Chan.
The current restrictions will stay in place for two more days and details of the new regulations in each sector will be announced later in the day.
Last updated: 2020-08-25 HKT 15:00