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HK limits public gatherings to 4 people as 65 new Covid-19 cases recorded

27 March 2020

By The SUN

CE Lam making the announcement at press briefing

Hong Kong has decreed that no more than 4 people can gather in public places, both indoors and outdoors, as part of the toughest restrictions it has introduced so far to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the new measures Friday night, after the city’s health officials reported a record 65 new cases of Covid-19 infections.

The measures, adopted following a meeting of the Executive Council, will take effect for two weeks from Sunday, Mar 29. Offenders face up to six months in prison, and a maximum fine of $25,000.
The 4-people rule will apply even in restaurants, which are also required to take in only half their previous seating capacity. A maximum of four people will be allowed to dine together, at tables that should be at least 1.5 meters apart.

Diners will be required to wear face masks which they can remove only while eating. Restaurants should check customers’ body temperature, and provide them with hand sanitizers.

However, the restriction will not apply to private homes and offices, public transport, the courts, government buildings, Legislative Council and District Board meetings, plus weddings and funerals.\

Big gatherings like this one in Central will be forbidden from Sunday

As part of the new restrictions, the government has also ordered the closure from 6pm tomorrow, Saturday, of public places that attract large crowds, including cinemas, gaming centers, saunas, fitness centres, party rooms and pool halls.
The clampdown comes as the city recorded its highest-ever daily tally of Covid-19 cases.

Most of the new cases involved residents with recent travel history, but a significant number also came from a cluster infection in bars, and a gathering at a party place that drew in around 100 people.

Lam said the total number of cases have shot up to 518, a threefold increase from the 138 recorded two weeks ago.

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“Many of the infected people went to bars, weddings and private parties, which we categorise as social interactions,” she said.

But the top official dropped her proposal to stop restaurants and bars from selling alcohol, a move deemed insufficient by her advisers, but sweeping by industry leaders.

Officials speak with the government's new slogan as backdrop

The government unveiled a new slogan for the crisis at the press briefing: “Stay home, keep safe.”

Also at the briefing was Health Secretary Sophia Chan, who announced that all new arrivals will now be tested for the virus.

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Each arriving passenger will be given a bottle for specimen sample which they can deliver straight to the testing facility at AsiaWorld-Expo, or ask their relatives to submit, as they will have to start their 14-day home quarantine.

Secretary for Security John Lee, meanwhile, reported that police had caught 77 people who violated their quarantine orders to isolate. Around 40 of the offenders were reported by the public to the police.


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