Hong Kong banning in-person dining, limiting gatherings to two people

Hong Kong banning in-person dining, limiting gatherings to two people
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Hong Kong will ban dine-in restaurant services and gatherings of more than two nonrelatives as of Wednesday in an attempt to stem the rise in coronavirus cases in the city.

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung also announced Monday that the city will close athletic venues and swimming pools and require masks outdoors with exemptions for those who are medically unable to wear them, Bloomberg reported.

After a leveling off of coronavirus cases in the city, there have been six consecutive days of more than 100 new infections, including 142 reported on Monday.


Before July, the highest number of locally transmitted daily infections for the city was 28, according to the publication. Local officials are also struggling to trace the origins of cases, with the source of about 40 percent of the Monday total still unclear.

The new restrictions tighten the city’s existing precautions, which included a ban on dine-in services after 6 p.m. and requiring masks in indoor public spaces and on public transportation. Public hospitals’ isolation beds and wards are at around 80 percent capacity, according to Bloomberg, with the current surge largely affecting older people, among the groups considered most at risk from the virus.

“The pandemic situation in the city continues to be severe, and confirmed cases in the past week continue to surge rapidly,” Cheung said at a press conference Monday, according to the South China Morning Post. “We have many untraceable cases and it’s difficult to eliminate the hidden transmission chain in a short period of time.”

“Considering the recent developments, with cases not wearing masks and the risk of social activities, we must immediately tighten social-distancing measures,” he added. “We appeal to the public to stay at home as much as possible.”

Cheung said the city government is not currently considering a full lockdown, however, saying the disruptions from such a measure would outweigh the benefits at this stage, according to the publication.