Hong Kong is set to relax some major social distancing restrictions starting Friday, 8 May, as local transmission of the viral disease COVID-19 has been halted in the city. No new cases have been confirmed in the area in 10 of the last 16 days, with the new cases being reportedly imported.
The move is seen to provide a much-needed boost for the city’s economy in deep recession. The territory’s economy has seen an 8.9% on-year contraction in the first quarter of 2020 – the worst decline so far since the government started recording data in 1974.
Come 8 May, schools will be allowed to reopen with older secondary students returning from 27 May and younger children resuming their education in the first half of June.
Cinemas will be operational as well, although screenings will be limited to reduced crowds. Beauty and massage parlours as well as fitness gyms can reopen but must follow strict hygiene protocols such as temperature checks and the use of masks and hand sanitisers.
Restaurants and bars are also allowed to resume operations, provided tables are spaced 1.5 metres apart. Dancing and live music performances, however, remain banned.
Karaoke bars and nightclubs will not be allowed to reopen just yet.
Previous restrictions limited gatherings to four people, but the easing extends that limit to eight. Hong Kong authorities are also eyeing the widespread distribution of reusable face masks to all 7.5 million residents in the city.