Visitors to 14 dance clubs were told on Sunday to take a coronavirus test by no later than Tuesday or face a HK$2,000 penalty as a cluster of cases continues to grow.
It's the first time the government has exercised its new power to force people to undergo tests. Anyone who continues to refuse a test after being issued with a penalty notice risks prosecution, with a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to HK$25,000.
A total of 32 people have been confirmed to have coronavirus as part of the cluster that started at the Starlight Dance Club in Wan Chai.
"The number of confirmed cases of a cluster related to dancing activities and dancing venues continued to increase significantly in the past few days, with cases distributed all over the territory and some confirmed cases are asymptomatic," a Food and Health Bureau spokesman said.
"It indicates the existence of many silent transmission chains in the community. The government must act swiftly."
Anyone who attended the clubs between November 1 and Saturday is covered by the notice.
The clubs in question are: Chasse, at W Square and Dance Concept of Great Smart Tower, both in Wan Chai; Dance Culture and Dance Star Academy, both in Richmond Plaza, Causeway Bay; DanzStage Dance Studio of 148 Electric Road, Causeway Bay; Green Apple International Dance School of Alto Residences in Tseung Kwan O; Heavenly Dance of 9 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan; Hsin Kuang Banquet Hall of Yue Xiu Plaza in San Po Kong; a studio on the third floor of Golden Era Plaza in Mong Kok; Matex Club of Park Fook Industrial Building in Sham Shui Po; More Dance Fame of Chinaweal Centre in Wan Chai; Palladium International Dance Club of the BCC Building in Tsim Sha Tsui; Shining Star Dance Studio of SUP Tower in North Point and the Starlight Dance Club of Sunshine Plaza in Wan Chai.
Visitors can take tests without charge at one of four community testing centres; pick up a specimen collection pack from any of 47 designated Hospital Authority outpatient clinics; take tests at Hospital Authority facilities or use a private laboratory approved by the authority.
The spokesman added: "To reduce transmission risk, persons who underwent testing are advised to stay at home and avoid going out when waiting for test results."
The clubs all operate as party rooms. All party room businesses have been ordered to close until Thursday at the earliest, while dancing and live performances have been banned in bars and restaurants for the same period.
The bureau spokesman said it was still working on compulsory testing notices for other high risk groups, including taxi drivers and care home staff.
It said the Labour and Welfare Bureau was working on a plan to give a grant of HK$5,000 to anyone who tests positive for the virus, amid concerns that people are reluctant to take tests because they risk losing their income.
Dancers given three days to take virus test
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