The government on Monday announced a further relaxation of social distancing rules as Hong Kong recorded zero local coronavirus cases for 14 consecutive days, but the four-person cap on public gatherings is to remain in place.
From Thursday, restaurants can run at full capacity as long as all their staff members are fully vaccinated and two-thirds of their customers have received at least the first dose of a vaccine.
Restaurants will be able to hold banquets for up to 180 guests.
For bars and clubs, the number of people that can be seated at each table will rise from two to four, as long as all staff members and customers have had at least one jab.
Religious gatherings, weddings and business meetings will also be allowed to be held at a venue's full capacity, as long as two-thirds of the participants are vaccinated.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she hoped the new rules will encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“If the businesses and participants are willing to take the vaccine, the relaxation will be much higher. I hope it’s a good enough incentive to appeal and encourage people to take the vaccine,” she said.
Lam dismissed allegations that the government is trying to curb protests by keeping the ban on public gatherings of more than four people.
She said officials had taken into consideration infection risks, saying it is easier to implement social distancing rules in a confined space.
Lam also announced that arrivals from overseas who are vaccinated will be required to undergo seven days of quarantine, down from 14 days, if they also test positive for antibodies against Covid-19.
“That passenger has to book a longer period of quarantine, say 14 days. But if he or she is being advised on the second day or third day that your antibody test is positive, so you can leave the designated hotel a week earlier,” she explained.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection reported three imported coronavirus cases for the day.
Two of the patients flew in from the UK, while the third came from Indonesia. All of them had the L452R mutant variant of the coronavirus.