Hong Kong extends social distancing measures for 2 weeks until after Chinese New Year

The measures include a ban on more than two people gathering and dining in restaurants after 6pm local time.
The measures include a ban on more than two people gathering and dining in restaurants after 6pm local time.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Hong Kong will extend social distancing measures for a further two weeks until after the Chinese New Year holiday and impose stricter testing rules when cases of Covid-19 are detected.

The measures, which include a ban on more than two people gathering and dining in restaurants after 6pm local time, will remain in place until Feb 17.

"More time is going to be needed before we see a substantial improvement," Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung told a news briefing on Monday (Feb 1).

The government has, in the past week, set up testing zones for residents of some areas with little warning. It will also now require all residents of a building to get tested if a single untraceable infection is found in their building.

Schools will remain closed. Mr Cheung said he hoped they could reopen after the holiday period.

Chinese New Year, which runs from Feb 12 to Feb 15 in Hong Kong, is typically a time when people gather in large groups.

Mr Cheung said the government would relax restrictions for some sport facilities where there is less body contact before the holiday period. He did not give further details.

Hong Kong has been logging double-digit daily case numbers for several weeks with 34 infections recorded on Monday, down from Sunday's 53. It has had around 10,500 Covid-19 cases since January last year and 181 deaths.