Government extends social distancing measures under Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance
A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said, "Since the gradual and orderly relaxation of social distancing measures on February 18, the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong remains volatile. Large-scale cluster outbreaks were found at catering business premises and fitness centres, and silent transmission in the community is still active.
"Taking into account the latest public health risk assessment, there is still no room for further relaxation of measures at this stage. The Government will therefore continue to maintain most of the existing requirements and restrictions applicable to catering business premises and scheduled premises, as well as the requirements for group gatherings and mask wearing for 14 days until March 31.
"Since a patron staying at catering premises may take off his or her mask for most of the time in order to eat or drink, anti-epidemic experts have been recommending the enhancement of air ventilation in catering premises to a minimum level of six air changes per hour, and if this could not be achieved, appropriate air purifier(s) should be installed as an alternative. The latest requirements would mandate catering business premises to implement the above measures by end April in order to reduce the relevant transmission risks."
"In addition, the relevant departments have been actively discussing with the industry to encourage fitness centres to enhance infection control measures on a voluntary basis. Such measures include limiting the number of customers in the premises and exploring more frequent tests of staff. The Government is thankful to the self-discipline and co-operation by the trade in fighting the virus together."
"The Government announced on March 8 that all staff of scheduled premises under Cap. 599F were included as a vaccination priority group under the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. We call on all staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and others. If the vaccination rate of the whole community is satisfactory and that we all continue to strictly follow the anti-epidemic measures, it is believed that the control of the epidemic could be strengthened, thus creating the favourable conditions for relaxing restrictions for restaurants and other premises."
The details of the latest requirements and restrictions (see Annex 1 for requirements and restrictions under Cap. 599F) are as follows:
(1) Catering business premises should comply with specified requirements on air change or air purifier(s) by April 30, 2021. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has made appointments to the relevant Working Group, which will advise the Government on the smooth implementation of the above requirement.
(2) The existing requirements and restrictions applicable to catering business will be maintained during the specified period, including:
(a) Dedicated staff must be arranged in catering business premises for clearing used utensils and cleaning and disinfecting used tables and partitions. If this arrangement is not practicable, it must be ensured that the staff carrying out the aforementioned duties must adopt hand hygiene measures before switching to perform other duties, and should adopt hand hygiene measures as necessary during each round of cleaning-up duties. Hand hygiene measures include using alcohol-based hand sanitisers, washing hands or changing gloves.
(b) If a person responsible for carrying on a catering business adopts specified infection control measures (including ensuring that users (excluding persons who only order takeaways) scan the "LeaveHomeSafe" QR code using the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile application on their mobile phones or register their names, contact numbers and the dates and times of their visits before the persons are allowed to enter the premises; and arranging for all staff involved in the operation of the premises to undergo a polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19 once every 14 days), the catering premises can provide dine-in services from 5am to 9.59pm every day, with the number of customers at the catering premises at any one time not exceeding 50 per cent of the normal seating capacity of the premises and no more than four persons seated together at one table;
(c) If a person responsible for carrying on a catering business does not adopt the specified infection control measures, the catering premises can only provide dine-in services from 5am to 5.59pm every day, with the number of customers at the catering premises at any one time not exceeding 50 per cent of the normal seating capacity of the premises and no more than two persons seated together at one table;
(d) Bars or pubs will continue to be closed;
(e) No live performance, dancing activity, karaoke or mahjong-tin kau activity is allowed in catering premises;
(f) The number of persons participating in any one banquet at any one time may not exceed 20 persons; and
(g) Other requirements and restrictions, including that all persons must wear masks at any time in the premises except when eating or drinking, body temperature screening on persons before entering the premises and providing hand sanitisers, etc.
(3) During the specified period, the existing requirements and restrictions applicable to the scheduled premises under Cap. 599F will be maintained, including the requirement that any person within a fitness centre is required to wear a mask at all times, except when having a shower or consuming food/drink at a table in catering premises. Some scheduled premises can be open when the relevant requirements and restrictions are fulfilled (including ensuring that users scan the "LeaveHomeSafe" QR code using the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile application on their mobile phones or register their names, contact numbers and the dates and times of their visits before the persons are allowed to enter the premises; and arranging for all staff involved in the operation of the premises to undergo a polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19 once every 14 days).
(4) Following scheduled premises under Cap. 599F will continue to be closed:
(b) premises (commonly known as party rooms) that are maintained or intended to be maintained for hire for holding social gatherings;
(c) establishments (commonly known as clubs or nightclubs) that are open late into the night, usually for drinking, and dancing or other entertainment;
(d) karaoke establishments;
(e) mahjong-tin kau premises; and
(f) swimming pools.
Persons responsible for carrying on catering businesses and managers of scheduled premises that contravene the statutory requirements under Cap. 599F would have committed a criminal offence. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.
(5) Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings of more than four persons in public places will continue during the specified period. The requirement is also applicable to group gatherings in catering business and scheduled premises regulated under Cap. 599F in which the relevant requirements or restrictions are not complied with.
Any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of such a gathering; and knowingly allows the taking place of such a gathering commits an offence under Cap. 599G. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months. Persons who participate in a prohibited group gathering may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $5,000.
(6) The mandatory mask-wearing requirement under Cap. 599I will be extended during the specified period. During the aforementioned period, a person must wear a mask at all times when the person is boarding or on board a public transport carrier, is entering or present in an MTR paid area, or is entering or present in a specified public place (i.e. all public places, save for outdoor public places in country parks and special areas as defined in section 2 of the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208)).
Under Cap. 599I, if a person does not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement, an authorised person may deny that person from boarding a public transport carrier or entering the area concerned, as well as require that person to wear a mask and disembark from the carrier or leave the said area. A person in contravention of the relevant provision commits an offence and the maximum penalty is a fine at level 3 ($10,000). In addition, authorised public officers may issue fixed penalty notices to persons who do not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement and such persons may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $5,000.
Ends/Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Issued at HKT 1:27
Issued at HKT 1:27