Bars and restaurants will open till 2am and operate at greater capacity and public beaches will reopen as the government moved to further relax social distancing measures thanks to a drop in Covid-19 cases.
The Secretary for Food and Health, Sophia Chan, said from Friday, restaurants will be allowed to seat up to six people per table – up from four currently – while bars and nightclubs can seat a maximum of four people per table, an increase from two at the moment.
In addition, they can operate at 75 percent capacity, up from 50 percent right now, and extend their opening hours from midnight till 2am.
Meanwhile, customers at bars and nightclubs will be required to wear a face mask whenever they leave their table.
The catering sector welcomed the new arrangements, even though lawmaker Tommy Cheung, who represents the trade, said the relaxation should have come earlier.
He said the easing of curbs would help to boost the trade during the upcoming Halloween.
But Cheung also told bar operators not to drop their guard, warning the government could tighten the rules should the Covid situation take a turn for the worse, and stressed the need to implement contact tracing.
"We are anxiously waiting for the government to come up with a QR code, so we could basically help register people who come to our restaurant in case something happens, probably we could help the government to trace."
The health chief also announced the reopening of public beaches after months of closure. Chan said the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will provide more information later.
Capacity at other sports and entertainment facilities such as swimming pools, theme parks and performance venues will also go up to 75 percent from 50 percent.
Chan said the latest round of measures took into consideration people's needs as well as the overall economic situation.
"Generally speaking, we urge the public not to gather. This is important," she said.
But the government has decided not to ease a ban on gatherings of more than four people for the time being, with the health secretary insisting they want to stick to a "gradual and targetted" relaxation of distancing measures.