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Bar patrons must show negative test result from Thursday

14 June 2022

by Daisy CL Mandap 

6 officials led by Health Secretary Sophia Chan (3rd from left) were at today's press briefing

From next Thursday, anyone who enters a bar or a pub in Hong Kong will have to present a negative result for a rapid test taken within 24 hours, before they can gain entry.

This was announced by Health Secretary Sophia Chan at the daily press briefing on Tuesday, when an additional 752 Covid-19 cases were reported, 97 of them imported.

Chan said that as announced earlier by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, all the social distancing measures will be extended until her term ends at the end of June.

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However, because of the outbreak of Covid-19 cases in several bars, some of which were found to have violated anti-pandemic rules, the testing requirement for patrons will be implemented for at least 14 days, or from Jun 16 to 29.

To gain entry, all customers must show a photo of their negative test result which also shows their name and the date and time it was taken.

Director for Health Ronald Lam said about 350 cases have been detected in six bars since they were allowed to reopen last month.

Lam said the bars are considered as high-risk places because their customers tend to take off their masks for an extended period. Some of these customers were also found to have gone bar hopping, which could have helped the virus to spread further.

Chan also said that judging from the recent rebound in cases, the daily tally could breach the one thousand-mark within the month.

“With this increasing trend, we think that within this month the number of cases will reach four digits,” she said.

But she said that the government remains “cautiously optimistic” that the coronavirus situation will remain stable, especially in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

"It's an important milestone for Hong Kong. We will do our best to ensure the celebrations can go ahead. The cooperation of businesses and individuals is important to ensure our coronavirus situation remains stable," she said.

Earlier, CE Lam reiterated the need for Hong Kong to open its borders, saying “connectivity with the outside world is very important, whether it is for Hong Kong’s role as an international financial centre or an international innovation and technology hub.”

However, she said there is a need to balance this with the need to secure quarantine-free travel to the Mainland as Hong Kong is an integral part of China.

Lam spoke to reporters before convening the final meeting of the Executive Council during her term.

She said that as she is due to step down soon, she should no longer make a decision on whether the city’s quarantine rules ought to be eased or not.

CE Lam says she will keep the status quo until she steps down on Jun 30

“Naturally, as we are approaching the end of our term - there's only two more weeks to go - if we were to relax the quarantine rules tomorrow, but then in two weeks' time the new government decided that perhaps this needs to be reverted to a more tightened approach, that would create a lot of confusion and uncertainty for a lot of people,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Albert Au of the Centre for Health Protection said that the new cases included 348 that were confirmed through PCR and 404 rapid test results that were confirmed by laboratories.

They took Hong Kong’s total infection tally in the fifth wave to 1.28 million.

A 79-year-old male patient with chronic illnesses passed away, taking the death toll in the same period to 9,178.

A total of 134 cases were reported by 112 schools, involving 103 students and 31 teachers.

Five schools have seen small outbreaks, while classes in 10 other schools have been suspended to prevent further transmission.

At the bars, five additional cases were added to two clusters – four at FLM on Jervois Street, where the infection tally has now gone up to 28, ded; and one at Racks City on Wyndham Street, which now has 22 cases in total.

Genome sequencing results showed 25 additional cases involving the BA.2.12.1 sub-variant, and 10 of them are unlinked, while the 11 others are their family members.

The patients reside in various districts, including Kennedy Town, North Point and Tseung Kwan O.

Of the 97 imported cases, 40 were detected at the airport, 39 at quarantine hotels, while the remaining 18 tested positive after ending their seven-day quarantine.

A total of 391 patients are being treated at public hospitals and the North Lantau infection control centre. Among them, 15 are in critical condition – two of them in intensive care – and eight are in serious condition.

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