Health Secretary Sophia Chan on Wednesday brushed aside criticism of the government's latest set of coronavirus rules, saying it's not illogical to allow groups of six to dine at restaurants while banning gatherings of more than four outdoors.
Speaking on an RTHK programme, Chan said the government was moving to ease social distancing measures gradually, and public gatherings still posed a risk of spreading the disease.
Asked whether groups of six who had dined together would have to split up as soon as they left the restaurant, Chan said "I believe in daily lives people are rational, if people are worried... normally speaking we seldom walk in large groups."
Discussing the limit on public gatherings, she said: "Of course we will assess the risk and make adjustments. That we haven't adjusted that today doesn't mean we won't adjust it later."
The administration announced on Tuesday that, from Friday, restaurants would be allowed to seat six people at a table instead of four, and to operate at 75 percent of capacity instead of 50 percent.
Bars and nightclubs will also be allowed to double the number of people at each table, from two to four. They'll be allowed to open until 2am instead of closing at midnight.
Activists have complained that the ban on outdoor gatherings of more than four has been used as a pretext to stop demonstrations.
Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme, infection disease expert Joseph Tsang said the message may be confusing, but the government was trying to prevent a rebound in cases while supporting businesses.
"They tend not to release of relax measures so quickly," he told RTHK's Janice Wong. "But on the other hand they try to meet some of the expectations from the catering services as well as the bar service."
Last updated: 2020-10-28 HKT 09:10