With Hong Kong reporting its second daily caseload of more than 600 cases as a result of the Omicron-led fifth wave of Covid-19, the Hong Kong government announced today (February 8) that the city would be returning to its strictest social distancing regime with a cap of two diners per table in restaurants, except for Type D restaurants. The latter—which requires all staff to be fully vaccinated and guests to have received at least one injection—will be able to welcome four diners per table, down from six. Meanwhile, bars will continue to be shut, while hair salons and places of worship will be forced to close temporarily.
The new social restrictions will remain in force for a two-week period from this Thursday (February 10) until February 24, at which time they will be reviewed.
At a press conference announcing the changes, Chief Executive Carrie Lam detailed the new measures as central to the government's "dynamic zero" policy of attempting to eliminate Covid-19 cases locally to buy more time to increase vaccination rates in the general population, especially among the city's elderly. The exponential increase in daily caseloads is seen as a direct result of family gatherings over the Lunar New Year period.
A new "vaccine pass" stored on the LeaveHomeSafe app will be made mandatory from February 24 onwards for entry into all shopping malls, supermarkets, department stores, public premises and government-subsidised venues (including wet markets). All restaurants must close at 6pm under the current restrictions introduced on January 7.
Additionally, the four-person public gathering ban will be decreased to two people, while a new gathering ban on private premises will limit gatherings to no more than members of two households.
The penalty for those who do not comply with a compulsory testing requirement will double from HK$5,000 to HK$10,000, while unvaccinated employees at businesses with a vaccine requirement will no longer be able to claim unreasonable dismissal should their employment be terminated.
If you run a restaurant and bar in Hong Kong and want to update us on how you'll be running during the restrictions, please let us know here.