Hong Kong to extend Covid-19 curbs for Chinese New Year, says local media

The government is trying to contain an Omicron outbreak that has reached some 60 cases locally. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Hong Kong will extend the restrictions it put in place to fend off an outbreak of Covid-19 for two weeks, keeping social venues shut and shortening dining hours at restaurants until the end of the Chinese New Year, according to local media.

The rules - banning dine-in services after 6pm and shutting down bars, cinemas, gyms and entertainment venues - will last until Feb 3, local broadcaster Cable TV and HK01 reported, citing unidentified people.

The government is trying to contain an Omicron outbreak that has reached some 60 cases locally.

The restrictions started on Jan 7 and were originally set to last for two weeks. The addition of two weeks means they will be in place throughout the entire Chinese New Year holiday that runs for the first three days of February.

An announcement about the extension is expected to be made on Friday afternoon (Jan 14), Cable TV said. The move will put a significant damper on the celebrations, which often involve families gathering together in large groups for dinner at local restaurants.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong will suspend for a month transit flights from around 150 countries and territories considered high risk because of the coronavirus, deepening the global financial hub’s isolation.

Prior to the outbreak, which authorities said could be traced back to two aircrew members of Cathay Pacific Airways, the city had had no local transmissions for over three months.

Hong Kong International Airport said in a statement on Friday that any persons who have stayed in places classified as high risk by health authorities in the 21 days before travelling cannot transit through the city from Jan 16 until Feb 15.

The measure was taken “in order to control the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant,” it said.

Hong Kong currently classifies more than 150 countries and territories as high risk.

Last week, it banned incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain and the United States, including interchanges.

The Chinese-ruled city has followed mainland China’s policy in adopting a zero-tolerance towards local Covid-19 cases even as much of the world shifts towards living with the coronavirus.

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