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Private gatherings restricted, more bans for unjabbed

2022-02-08 HKT 16:09
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  • Private gatherings restricted, more bans for unjabbed
The government has unveiled Hong Kong's toughest pandemic measures to date, including restrictions on private gatherings at homes, higher fines for rule-breakers, and a ban on unvaccinated people entering supermarkets, malls and other places.

From February 10, the cap on gatherings in public places will be lowered, from four people to two, while only two households will be allowed to mix in private dwellings.

At a press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that when the "vaccine pass" arrangement comes into effect on February 24, it will cover more venues than originally envisaged.

As well places such as restaurants, gyms and beauty parlours, people will also need to have been jabbed in order to enter shopping malls, supermarkets, department stores, markets, hair salons and religious venues.

There'll be spot checks by law enforcement officers, Lam said.

"Our measures need to be very strong so we can boost the vaccination rate within this period to prevent serious cases and protect Hong Kong's medical system... We are making it inconvenient for the unjabbed... if they don't get vaccinated, they will have much fewer choices," she said.

Religious venues and hair salons will also have to close from Thursday until February 24, Lam announced.

She said the vaccine pass will not be required on public transport yet, as people need to use it for essential daily activities.

But she said the health secretary could order public transport to be covered by the vaccine pass scheme, if the Covid situation becomes more serious.

Lam also announced that the fine for violating a mandatory testing order will be doubled to HK$10,000.

At a separate press conference, Permanent Secretary for Food and Health Thomas Chan was asked whether the police will be allowed to enter people's flats to take action regarding suspected illegal gatherings.

“We will not take enforcement action proactively. But if subsequent investigation shows that people have broken the rule, then we will follow up accordingly,” he said.

"The arrangement is intended to send a strong signal to the community to refrain from large-scale gatherings... we hope people will proactively co-operate with the government.”

Chan also said that in order to qualify for a vaccine pass, people will only need to have had one jab at first, but this will be changed to two jabs from April. From June, three shots will be the requirement.

He added that from February 10, Group D restaurants -- which are allowed to serve a large number of customers at the same time -- will implement the vaccine pass arrangement as a pilot scheme before the measure comes into full force two weeks later.
Last updated: 2022-02-08 HKT 17:45