Government adjusts five anti-epidemic measures
The anti-epidemic measures that will come into effect from 0.00 am tomorrow include:
(1) Lifting the requirement of scanning the "LeaveHomeSafe" (LHS) venue QR code before entering premises
Considering the epidemic development, starting from tomorrow, the Government will lift the requirement of scanning the LHS venue QR code before entering premises (including government buildings and premises), and premises operators are no longer required to display LHS venue QR codes. The LHS mobile application functions such as storing Vaccine Pass, Testing Registration Code and testing records can still be used.
Meanwhile, the existing Vaccine Pass arrangement remains unchanged (see this webpage for details). Members of the public entering any premises to which the Vaccine Pass applies are still required to comply with the vaccination requirements (in general three doses for persons aged 12 or above; two doses for persons aged 5 to 11). In premises with higher risk of transmission where members of the public would in general be mask-off for eating/drinking or activities, they are still required to present their Vaccine Pass QR code (through LHS, "iAM Smart" or "eHealth" mobile applications, or using paper copy/screenshots in mobile phone) to premises operators for checking with mobile application.
Other existing social distancing measures remain unchanged. Details of the restrictions under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F) to be in force during the period from December 14 to 28 are set out at Annex. The Government will continue to review social distancing measures regularly with regard to the epidemic development.
(2) Lifting the Amber Code arrangement under the Vaccine Pass
According to the data from recent months, the positive case detection rate among inbound persons under the "test-and-go" arrangement is similar to that of the local community. Despite the increase in number of imported cases along with the rise in number of inbound persons after the lifting of inbound quarantine arrangement, the number of imported cases still accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total number of confirmed cases locally. Therefore, starting from tomorrow, the Government will lift the Amber Code arrangement under the Vaccine Pass, i.e. the restriction of entering various types of premises (including catering business premises) will be lifted. Other than infected persons, who will be subject to the Red Code restrictions under the Vaccine Pass, all other persons will be issued with Blue Code.
For the purpose of epidemic surveillance and proper risk management, inbound persons from overseas places or Taiwan will still be required to undergo nucleic acid tests under the "test-and-go" arrangement on the day of arrival at Hong Kong. Relevant inbound persons should return to their places of residence directly after leaving the airport, and leave the places only after obtaining the "test-and-go" nucleic acid test result. In accordance with the existing arrangement, inbound persons are still required to undergo nucleic acid tests on Day 2 after arrival at Hong Kong, as well as daily rapid antigen tests (RATs) until Day 5 after arrival at Hong Kong.
(3) Lifting the rapid nucleic acid test arrangement at control points for persons travelling to the Mainland
To tie in the Mainland's anti-epidemic efforts, the Government required persons travelling to the Mainland or Macao to undergo an additional rapid nucleic acid test at the land boundary control points or the airport since March this year, apart from holding a negative result proof of a nucleic acid test within 48 hours. Only those who receive a negative result can continue with their journeys. With reference to the latest anti-epidemic measures in the Mainland, in particular the inbound testing requirements of the Mainland, the Government will lift the additional pre-departure nucleic acid test arrangement at the control points for persons travelling to the Mainland or Macao starting from tomorrow. Relevant travellers will still be required to obtain a negative nucleic acid test result within 48 hours prior to boarding (for travellers departing via the airport) or departure (for travellers departing via land boundary control points) as required by the destination.
Furthermore, along with the lifting of Amber Code and special nucleic acid test arrangement for travelling to the Mainland or Macao, inbound persons from overseas places or Taiwan who comply with the relevant requirements for entering the Mainland may travel directly to the Mainland or Macao via Hong Kong control points (i.e. Shenzhen Bay Port, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port and the Hong Kong International Airport currently) without any waiting for conversion of the Amber Code to a Blue Code. The relevant requirements include obtaining a negative nucleic acid test result conducted within 48 hours (including self-paid negative nucleic acid test result from community testing centres (CTCs)/community testing stations (CTSs)).
(4) Adjusting local testing strategies, including reducing the scope of target groups for regular nucleic acid testing
The Government will continue to use nucleic acid testing more precisely to focus resources in protecting high-risk premises and groups.
In light of the epidemic development, the Government will reduce the scope of target group for regular nucleic acid testing starting from tomorrow. The relevant requirements for regular nucleic acid testing will only apply to high-risk group (i.e. the Hospital Authority staff, as well as staff members of residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs) and residential care homes for persons with disabilities (RCHDs)).
In other words, the following groups will no longer be required to undergo regular nucleic acid testing under the new arrangement. However, the Government appeals to staff to conduct RATs themselves on a regular basis and report positive results:
(i) Airport staff;
(ii) Working staff of quarantine centres / facilities and relevant designated transport;
(iii) Staff of container terminals and shipping services;
(iv) Working staff of CTCs/CTSs and ad-hoc mobile specimen collection stations;
(v) Slaughterhouse practitioners;
(vi) Cold store practitioners;
(vii) Performers at catering premises/scheduled premises;
(viii) Crew members and passengers of "cruise-to-nowhere" itineraries;
(ix) Staff members of catering business/scheduled premises who do not meet the vaccination requirements under the Vaccine Pass;
(x) Construction site personnel; and
(xi) School staff.
The Government is in parallel reducing the issuance of compulsory testing notices to residential buildings gradually, and will abolish the testing arrangements for imported frozen food and its packaging samples. The Government will review the demand for community testing and adjust the number and opening hours of CTCs/CTSs at an appropriate juncture.
The current requirements for RATs (including arrangements applicable to bars/pubs, banquet activities, residents of RCHEs/RCHDs, performers at catering premises/scheduled premises and staff members who do not meet the vaccination requirements under the Vaccine Pass, as well as students and school staff, etc.) will remain unchanged. The Government will continue to distribute RAT kits in the community. Members of the public are encouraged to conduct RATs voluntarily, in particular those with symptoms should test as soon as possible, and report positive results to facilitate early case detection.
(5) Lifting the requirement for persons under home isolation to put on electronic wristbands
As infected persons are currently restricted by the Red Code, such that they are prohibited from entering various types of premises, the risk of spreading the virus in the community by infected persons has been effectively reduced. The Government has decided to lift the requirement for persons under home isolation to put on electronic wristband. Government staff will continue to distribute anti-epidemic kits to infected persons under home isolation and close contacts under home quarantine, and ascertain whether the relevant individuals have stayed at their home by making random calls or conducting spot checks.
The Government spokesman said, on the premise that the epidemic is under control, the Government will continue to move forward along the path of combating the epidemic. However, the epidemic situation remains volatile recently. As the holiday is approaching, social gatherings and activities may increase accordingly. Members of the public should remain vigilant and observe personal hygiene to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in reducing severe cases and deaths. Members of the public should arrange the required dosage of COVID-19 vaccination for their elderly and children without delay so that they can get protection early.
The spokesperson said, "The Government will continue to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic development under the principles of science-based and targeted anti-epidemic measures, as well as the proper management of risks and citizen-focused facilitation. The Government will also continue to adjust and optimise anti-epidemic measures based on analyses of scientific data, with a view to creating the greatest room for people's livelihood and economic activities."
Ends/Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Issued at HKT 23:29
Issued at HKT 23:29