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Gyms, massage parlors to reopen, but 2-per-group rule remains

02 September 2020

By The SUN

Only 2 people are allowed to sit together in public, including restaurants
The government is set to further relax social distancing measures put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus by allowing certain premises to reopen, and to further extend the dine-in hours in restaurants by an hour, or up to 10pm.

The more relaxed rules will be implemented for a week from this Friday, Sept. 4, until Sept. 10, and may be extended or restricted further, depending on Hong Kong’s infection rate.

However, the ban on group gatherings of more than two people will remain, as well as the requirement for everyone to wear a mask in all public places, whether indoor or outdoor, unless they are engaged in a strenuous physical activity.


Among the business establishments that will reopen are fitness centers, massage parlors and indoor and outdoor sports premises where little physical contact is involved, subject to certain restrictions.

Previously, cinemas and beauty parlors were allowed to reopen, but must still operate within set guidelines, like taking in customers only up to 50% of their capacity; and a strict observance of physical distancing inside the premises.

The sports facilities that will be allowed to reopen include pool and billiard halls, bowling alleys, tennis and badminton courts, golf facilities, both indoor and outdoor; and all water sports.

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Those that will remain shut are amusement and games centres, swimming pools, party rooms, nightclubs, karaoke bars and mahjong places.

Live performance and dancing in any food establishment will still be forbidden.

A statement from the government said relaxing the restrictions slowly will allow the public “to exercise to maintain physical and mental health” so that they will be better equipped to combat the epidemic.

The details of the latest gathering measures are as follows:
Only those engaged in strenuous activities like jogging are allowed to take off their masks

Catering business
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(1) From 10pm to 4.59am of the subsequent day, save for specific premises (like staff canteen) restaurants or other food establishments must stop selling or supplying food or drink for consumption within their premises. The said businesses may still sell or supply food and/or drink for takeaway services and deliveries. A notice should be put up at the entrance announcing the restrictions.


(2) The number of customers at any catering premises at any one time must not exceed 50 per cent of the normal seating capacity of the premises. No more than two persons may be seated together at one table within any catering premises.

(3) Tables available for use or being used by customers within any catering premises must be arranged in a way to ensure there is a distance of at least 1.5 metres or partition(s) which could serve as an effective buffer between one table and another table at the premises.

(4) Any premises (commonly known as bar or pub) that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors as defined in section 53(1) of the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance (Cap. 109) for consumption in that premises must be closed. Any part of a catering premises that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of such intoxicating liquors for consumption in that part must be closed.

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(5) Live performance and dancing must not be allowed in any catering premises. All karaoke and mahjong-tin kau activities carried on at any catering premises must also be suspended. Other requirements and restrictions in relation to catering business premises would remain in effect, including wearing a mask at all the time within any catering premises except when the person is consuming food or drink; conducting body temperature screening for all persons entering the premises; and providing hand sanitisers, etc.

Live performances are still not allowed
Scheduled premises
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(6) The following scheduled premises under Cap. 599F may be open subject to relevant requirements and restrictions:

(a) Fitness Centre: The measures include that any person in the indoor sports premises is required to wear a mask all the time except when having a shower; no more than four persons may be allowed at each fitness station, machine and equipment; and each group training or class must consist of no more than four persons including the coach, etc.;

(b) Place of amusement: The measures include that any person in the place of amusement is required to wear a mask all the time except when having a shower; no more than four persons may be allowed to play at each billiard table in billiard rooms or each lane in public bowling alleys; and any ice skating rink must be closed, etc.;

(c) Cinema: The measures include that tickets to be sold and seats to be occupied of each house for film screening must not exceed 50 per cent of the seating capacity of the house; seating must be arranged in a way that no more than two consecutive seats in the same row may be occupied; no eating or drinking inside a house is allowed; and cleaning and disinfection of each house must be conducted after each screening, etc.;

(d) Beauty parlour and massage establishment: All staff must wear protective gears such as masks and face shield/goggles all the time when providing services to customers and the protective gears have to be changed or sanitised after service is provided to a customer; customers may only be served upon appointment; and no more than two persons may be allowed in each partitioned service area, etc.;

(e) Club-house: Amusement game centre, bathhouse, party room, club or nightclub, karaoke establishment, mahjong-tin kau premise and swimming pool must be closed. Catering premises must operate in accordance with the above restrictions and requirements stipulated for catering business, including the requirement to cease dine-in services during specific periods. Fitness centre, place of amusement, cinema, beauty parlour and massage establishment as well as the specified indoor and outdoor sports premises may also be open subject to compliance with the respective restrictions and requirements applicable to the premises; and

(f) Sports Premises:

(i) Some of indoor sports premises (namely badminton courts, table tennis halls, indoor bowling greens and bowling alleys, snooker and billiard rooms, tennis courts, indoor shooting ranges, golf driving ranges and practice greens, golf simulator rooms and climbing walls): The measures include that any person within the indoor sports premises is required to wear a mask all the time, except when having a shower; and each group must consist of no more than four persons, etc.; and

(ii) Some of the outdoor sports premises (namely athletic tracks in sports grounds, tennis courts and tennis practice courts, golf courses, golf driving ranges and practice greens, bowling greens, shooting ranges, archery ranges, cycling parks, horse riding schools, radio-controlled model aircraft flying fields and sea activities centres for water sports including canoeing, kayaking, sailing, yachting, windsurfing, rowing, dragonboating, water-skiing, stand-up paddling, diving and surfing): The measures include that any person within the sports premises is required to wear a mask before and after exercise except when having a shower; for a group of more than two persons, it must be arranged in a way to ensure that persons are in sub-groups of no more than two persons and there is at least 1.5 metres between each sub-group, etc.

(7) All the following scheduled premises under Cap. 599F are required to suspend operation:

(a) Amusement game centre;
(b) Bathhouse;
(c) Place of public entertainment (except cinema);
(d) Premises (commonly known as party room) that are maintained or intended to be maintained for hire for holding social gatherings;
(e) Establishment (commonly known as club or nightclub) that is open late into the night, usually for drinking, and dancing or other entertainment;
(f) Karaoke establishment;
(g) Mahjong-tin kau premises; and
(h) Swimming pool.

     Persons responsible for carrying on catering businesses and managers of scheduled premises that contravene the statutory requirements under Cap. 599F would have committed a criminal offence. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

Group Gathering
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(8) Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings of more than two persons in public places will continue during the aforementioned seven-day period.

     Any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of such gathering and knowingly allows the taking place of such gathering, commits an offence under Cap. 599G. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months. Persons who participate in a prohibited group gathering may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $2,000.

Mask-wearing Requirement
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(9) The Secretary for Food and Health will specify, by way of a notice published in the Gazette for the purpose of the mandatory mask-wearing requirement under Cap. 599I, a period of seven days from Sept 4 till Sept 10. During the said seven-day period, a person must wear a mask all the time when boarding or on board a public transport carrier, is entering or present in an MTR paid area, or is entering or present in a specified public place (i.e. all public places, save for outdoor public places in country parks and special areas as defined in section 2 of the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap. 208)).

     Under Cap. 599I, if a person does not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement, an authorised person may deny that person from boarding a public transport carrier or entering the area concerned, as well as require that person to wear a mask and disembark from the carrier or leave the said area. A person in contravention of the relevant provision commits an offence and the maximum penalty is a fine at level 2 ($5,000). In addition, authorised public officers may issue fixed penalty notices to persons who do not wear a mask in accordance with the requirement and such persons may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $2,000.

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