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FEHD continues to arrange free COVID-19 testing services for targeted groups
     The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (December 21) that to achieve the target of making testing services available as far as possible for those who should be tested, it will continue to arrange voluntary free COVID-19 testing services for targeted groups, including high-exposure groups such as front-line staff of catering businesses, staff of market stalls, licensed hawkers and staff of cold stores, to safeguard public health. The deadline for online registration for the scheme has been extended to January 21 next year. People in high-exposure groups who had already registered and undergone voluntary testing may register again.

     A spokesman for the FEHD said, "To broaden surveillance at the community level, and incorporate disease prevention and infection control into the new normal of the daily operation of society, the Government will integrate and regularise the Targeted Group Testing Scheme (TGTS) as part of its sentinel surveillance. The TGTS will become part of the surveillance and early warning system. By facilitating contact tracing and epidemiological investigation, it will be conducive to early identification, early isolation and early treatment, and can provide reference data for the overall assessment of the epidemic situation."

     The FEHD strongly appeals to the groups concerned to actively participate in the testing scheme, and continue to comply with the directions made under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F), and to maintain personal and environmental hygiene continuously with a view to ensuring cleanliness of the premises and food safety. Details of the scheme are available at the FEHD's website (www.fehd.gov.hk/english/events/covid19_test/info_20200926.html).

     "To safeguard the health and safety of staff of catering premises, as well as market tenants and the public, the FEHD reminds catering business and scheduled premises operators to comply strictly with the regulations and directions under Cap. 599F, while market tenants and members of the public should also comply with the restrictions in relation to group gatherings and mask wearing to reduce the risk of virus transmission. The fixed penalty for violating regulations on group gatherings and mask wearing has been increased from $2,000 to $5,000 from December 11," the spokesman added.

     The FEHD is continuing to enhance the inspections at catering premises and its markets and hawker stalls. From December 11 to yesterday (December 20), a total of 321 verbal warnings related to the regulation on mask wearing were given. The department initiated procedures on prosecution against 48 catering business operators (including three for providing dine-in services after 6pm) for breaching the requirements and directions stipulated in Cap. 599F. Enforcement actions were also taken by the FEHD against 15 persons for violating the requirements on mask wearing, including issuing 11 fixed penalty notices and initiating four summonses.

     The spokesman particularly reminded catering business operators that they must display the poster containing the "LeaveHomeSafe" venue QR code at the entrance of the premises or at a conspicuous location.

     "According to the regulation, catering premises must display the poster containing the 'LeaveHomeSafe' venue QR code at the entrance of the premises or at a conspicuous location which must be unobstructed at any one time so that it is readily accessible for scanning with a mobile phone by a person entering the catering premises and the size of the image of the poster displayed must not be less than 210 millimetres by 297mm (A4 size)," the spokesman said.

     From December 2 to yesterday, the FEHD gave 33 verbal warnings and initiated prosecution procedures against nine catering business operators for not displaying a poster containing the "LeaveHomeSafe" venue QR code properly at the premises.

     With Christmas and New Year approaching, the spokesman reminded catering business operators and the public to exercise self-discipline and co-operate to fight the virus together. He also appealed to catering business operators to comply with relevant regulations on prevention and control of disease in a concerted and persistent manner, with a view to keeping their staff, customers and the public safe. Members of the public also have to comply with the related regulations and directions on group gatherings and mask wearing at catering premises.
Ends/Monday, December 21, 2020
Issued at HKT 18:20
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