Beaches and swimming pools will reopen in Hong Kong on Thursday, while residents can look forward to going to bars and karaoke lounges from May 19.
The further lifting of social distancing measures comes as the COVID-19 situation in the city continues to stabilize.
Speaking to reporters before her weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that beaches, swimming pools, water parks and water sport centers will reopen this Thursday.
The cap on the number of people allowed per table in restaurants will also be raised from four to eight on the same day.
Those who are exercising at outdoor sports venues, doing strenuous exercise in public places or visiting country parks can take off their masks from this Thursday.
The city’s leader also announced the relaxing of other social distancing measures scheduled to take effect on May 19.
They include the reopening of venues such as bars, karaoke lounges, party rooms and nightclubs, although there will still be some restrictions.
Bars will be allowed to stay open until 2am but can only have a maximum of four per table.
Restaurants can open for dine-in services until midnight, while the maximum number of people allowed in banquets will go up from 20 to 120.
The maximum capacity allowed in cinemas will go up from 50 percent to 85 percent, and moviegoers can eat in theaters again.
Those exercising indoors can take off their masks.
Lam said that authorities decided to lift certain measures earlier this Thursday due to the stabilizing coronavirus situation and a strong public need.
“[The case numbers] are dropping faster than we expected,” she said.
“Some experts had forecast that [the figures] would fall to three digits in the end of April, but actually [the case numbers] were already at three digits in mid-April.”
She added there have not been any rebounds leading to more than 1,000 cases since then, despite having two long weekends and schools reopening for face-to-face classes.
In view of the falling number of coronavirus infections, Lam said the community treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo will switch to standby mode from Wednesday, while the last batch of mainland medical personnel working there will leave this week.
Daily COVID-19 cases fell to 283 on Monday, the lowest in close to three months.
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