Officials on Thursday gave more details about plans to relax social distancing measures from April 21, including allowing more households to mix at home and people to visit restaurants in the evenings.
During her daily press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the relaxation of rules will undoubtedly pose risks to the Covid outbreak, but it is important to balance this with the need for society to gradually return to normal.
“At this point in time and into the near term, Hong Kong is much, much better prepared to handle another wave. Nobody wants a sixth wave, but if a sixth wave hits us, we are now much, much better prepared,” she said, pointing to the city’s sufficient treatment facilities, quarantine centres, and ample supply of Covid vaccines.
“With this greater capacity, it will be very, very unreasonable and perhaps unacceptable to the majority of Hong Kong people to continue to close all these premises and allow people no chance to lead a normal life."
Health Secretary Sophia Chan said restaurants will be allowed to resume evening dine-in services, for those who have the required vaccine pass.
Restaurants can operate until 10pm and each table can sit up to four people, instead of the current two. Banquets of no more than 20 people will also be allowed.
Bars and pubs, however, will continue to remain shut.
Most other premises that were previously ordered to close – including beauty and massage parlours, gyms and sports venues, as well as cinemas, entertainment, recreational and religious venues – will be allowed to reopen. They are required to operate at 50 percent of their capacity.
Cinemas can also serve food and drinks at certain theatres if their staff and all visitors inside the venue are triple-jabbed.
Local tours will be allowed to resume as well, provided that all participants are jabbed.
Rules that restrict private gatherings will also be relaxed. A ban on private gatherings of more than two households, for example, will be lifted.
The gathering limit outdoors will be expanded to four.
The CE urged members of the public to remain vigilant as they celebrate the long Easter weekend, saying it's important for people to keep their face masks on when they're out and about.
She also appealed to those who have not been inoculated against the coronavirus to get vaccinated as soon as possible.