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Beaches to reopen and up to 8 people may dine together from Thursday

03 May 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap

Deepwater Bay beach before the latest pandemic restrictions (File)

In a surprise move, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced earlier today that there will be a further relaxation of social distancing measures starting on Thursday, May 5.

In line with this move, beaches, swimming pools, water parks will reopen, up to eight people may eat together in restaurants, while those engaged in strenuous activities outdoors or walk in country parks will be able to take off their masks.

Speaking ahead of her weekly meeting with members of the Executive Council, Mrs Lam said the move was being taken amid public clamor as Hong Kong's Omicron outbreak eases.


She had previously ruled out any further relaxation of measures until the next cycle on May 19.

"Considering the stabilising Covid situation and people's wishes, I'm announcing the relaxation of three measures two weeks ahead of schedule," she said.

In the next stage of relaxation, bars will be allowed to reopen and seat up to four persons per table, and operate until 2am. Also allowed to resume business are karaokes, bathhouses, mahjong parlours and cruise ships.


In addition, restaurants will be allowed to provide dine-in services until midnight and venues that are open, including cinemas, will be able to take in up to 85% of their capacity instead of the current five.

People will also be allowed to eat and drink while watching movies, while up to 120 guests will be able to gather at banquets. Those who exercise indoors will also be allowed to take off their masks.

But while some restrictions have been relaxed earlier, Mrs Lam said the government will also step up enforcement of the vaccine pass scheme.

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Starting at the end of April, everyone aged 12 and above are required to have received a second dose of a Covid vaccine to enter most venues like restaurants, government buildings, malls and supermarkets.

By the end of this month, everyone must have had at least three jabs to gain entry to these premises unless they have a medical exemption or have been infected with Covid which allows them a few months’ wait before taking the next dose.

CE Lam says the daily testing rule for students will continue for now

But the CE ruled out relaxing the current rule that requires students to present a negative result for a daily rapid antigen test before being allowed entry into schools each day.

“I said at the time of announcing this measure that this was not intended to be a permanent one, but it is not the time yet to review the relevance of this measure because it is still proven to be very reassuring for their schools and also for their parents,” she said.


Since face-to-face classes resumed starting on Apr 19, 50 students in 56 schools have tested positive for Covid, which the CE said was “on the low side,” considering the number of schools in the city.

She also said that secondary school students are just about to start in-person classes today, so they will likewise have to do their daily antigen tests before entering the campus.

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