Cover All you need to know about the hong kong social distancing rules (Photo: Unsplash)

With the Hong Kong x Singapore travel bubble set to take place on May 26, 2021, we are offering some clarity on the current Covid-19 social distancing rules in Hong Kong, breaking down exactly what you can and can't do in the city

Additional reporting by Andrea Saadan.

Good news for those hit by the travel bug: the Singapore and Hong Kong travel bubble has been confirmed to commence on May 26. But there are some rules to take note of when visiting the city.

Since the initial outbreak of Covid-19, Hong Kong has dealt with multiple waves of infections, with the city implementing a range of social distancing measures to reduce the spread of the virus. The most recent of which––the fourth wave––saw various restrictions that had previously been eased put back in place.

After a range of social distancing measures eased in February, on March 29, it was announced that a further number of the current restrictions were to be eased––including the reopening of the city's pools and beaches.

In a press conference on April 12, it was announced that all current restrictions will stay in place until April 28, with some of the current rules set to ease after this time for those who have been vaccinated.

For those planning a long-awaited trip out of Singapore, take note of these measures and stay up to date on exactly what you can or can't do in Hong Kong.

(Related: Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble to Launch on May 26)

Group gatherings

Since December 2, the limit on group gatherings in Hong Kong was capped at two––but from early March, this was extended to allow groups of four to gather in public, with this still the case as of April 13.

Only in places such as on public transport, hospitals, office buildings and funerals are larger groups allowed to gather.

Wearing a face mask is also still mandatory in public settings, this includes on public transport, in shops and supermarkets and in building lobbies. However, if you're looking to exercise outdoors––be it going for a run or a hike––and in country parks, you are not required to wear a mask during.

The maximum penalty for those gathering in public spaces or for "any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of the gathering; and knowingly allows the gathering" remains at $25,000. The government has also stated that individuals who participate in a prohibited group gathering may be fined $5,000, an increase from the previous $2,000.

When restrictions ease on April 29 for vaccinated residents, group gatherings in public places will still be capped at four, but will ease for when dining in restaurants.

Restaurants

After a rollercoaster ride with changing restrictions, restaurants were almost back to usual service in recent months, but with the fourth wave of infections, as of December 2 tables have been capped at a maximum of two people, with restaurants also having to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

As of December 10, restrictions that we first saw in the summer came back into place, limiting dine-in services and meaning that take away services only be available past 6pm.

It was confirmed on February 16 that as of February 18, restaurants will be able to re-open for dinner service until 10pm, and allow tables of up to four guests.  

(Related: From Dim Sum To Xiao Long Bao: The Best Places For Chinese Weekend Brunch In Hong Kong)

After April, the biggest change on easing restrictions will be for restaurants. Eateries with vaccinated staff who have received their first dose of the jab will be allowed to open until midnight and seat up to six customers per table. 

When staff have received the second dose of their vaccination, restaurants will be able to seat customers who have taken their first vaccine dose in a separate area, and seat eight guests per table, along with operating until 2am. 

Guests dining out should still expect to use the LeaveHomeSafe app, fill out heath declaration forms, wear masks when ordering or picking up food and have their temperature taken before entering any restaurant.

Bars

Although bars were able to reopen from September 18 after a stretch of being closed, due to a surge of cases, as of November 25, bars, nightclubs and party rooms sadly had to close once more, with live music performances also banned. This is still the case as of April 13 and will continue to be so until restrictions ease for vaccinated residents after April 29.

After this time, bars will finally be allowed to open as long as staff have received the first dose of the vaccine, but will only be permitted to welcome customers who have had their first does of the vaccine. This rule is set to relax once all staff and customers have received the complete vaccination.  

(Related: Penicillin Hong Kong Crowned Most Sustainable Bar by Asia's 50 Best Bars 2021)

Gyms

Hong Kong gyms were among the businesses that have been dealt many blows during 2020, and had to once more close from December 10. 

Some outdoor sports facilities which involve less physical contact, such as running tracks and tennis courts were able to re-open from February 4, with more sports facilities and gyms able to open from February 18.

While those participating will not be required to wear masks, other social distancing restrictions will have to be followed, along with guests required to use the LeaveHomeSafe tracing app upon entering.

From March 12, it has been a required for anyone working out in Hong Kong gyms, whether in group classes or individually, to wear face masks. The current restrictions will remain in place until April 28.

Beaches

Closed since December 10, on March 29 it was announced that all government beaches will be able to reopen from April 1.

Official campsites and barbecue areas also remain closed.

(Related: 7 Unique Facts to Know About Hong Kong)

Beauty parlours

From December 10, salons, including nail salons, massage parlours and other beauty services have been closed.

After over two months of closure, on February 16 it was confirmed that beauty parlous will be able to open from February 18. 

Hair salons and barbershops have been permitted to remain open, with extra restrictions put in place, with the reopening expected to follow the same procedures. Expect to have your temperature taken, fill out a health declaration form and wear a mask for the duration. A distance of 1.5m will also have to be maintained between all clients and all staff will have to wear both masks and face shields.

Hotels, pools and spas

If you have a staycation booked, you don’t need rush to cancel as hotels are permitted to remain open and will be following strict health and safety procedures.

As of November 16, the number of people permitted in a hotel room is capped at four (unless in a group from the same family).

Spa services resumed in early March, with hotel and public pools also able to finally reopen from April 1.

(Related: Hong Kong Neighbourhood Guide: What to Do in Causeway Bay)

Weddings

Although wedding ceremonies are able to go ahead in Hong Kong, gatherings are currently limited to 20 people. After April 29, banquets will be permitted to serve up to 100 people, as long as staff are fully vaccinated and guests have at least one dose.

Along with capping the number or people permitted to gather for such celebrations, no food or drinks are able to be served at wedding ceremonies. For those celebrating at restaurants of catering premises, social distancing rules of six people per table still apply.

(Related: These Couples Got Married During the Covid-19 Outbreak—Here’s How They Held Their Weddings in Singapore and Hong Kong)

Other closures

The city's theme parks, Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disney have also been affected by the restrictions. 

Due to the fourth wave both parks have been closed as of December 2. From February 18, they will be permitted to reopen, however, official opening dates are yet to be confirmed.

All LCSD museums also closed temporarily from December 2, and libraries from December 10, with cinemas also closed. From February 18, these will also be able to open once more.

As of April 1, cinemas, performance venues and theme parks will also be allowed up to 70 per cent capacity––up from the previous 50 per cent cap.

Travel

It was announced on October 15, 2020, that a Hong Kong and Singapore travel bubble would be implemented, with both governments working together to allow travellers between the two countries to visit without having to quarantine. After the delay in November last year, it has now been announced that the travel bubble is set to commence on May 26, 2021.  

Hong Kong will require their residents to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before they can depart on any of the flights to Singapore. They will be making exceptions for children or people who are deemed unsuitable to take the vaccine. 

Travellers from Singapore are required to install Hong Kong's LeaveHomeSafe app before departing to facilitate contact tracing.

Under this travel bubble, travellers from both countries will be able to travel freely in and out of both countries without having to serve a quarantine. They will however be required to take pre-departure and on-arrival Covid-19 swab tests. They will also only be allowed to take specially designated flights which will be operated by Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

Read more details about the travel bubble in our story here