Hong Kong to ease tour group restrictions
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Monday said it will launch specific arrangements for inbound tour group travelers this month that would allow them to visit tourist sites and dine in restaurants.
In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, the government said that tour group travelers, who are received by licensed travel agents and have pre-registered their itineraries, will be allowed to enter designated tourist attractions, including theme parks, museums and temples when holding an Amber Code of the Vaccine Pass.
They will also be allowed to dine in the partitioned areas of designated catering premises that meet special anti-pandemic requirements.
“The relevant arrangements can support the gradual resumption of the inbound travel market in an orderly manner, and provide a more favorable business environment for the travel trade,” the statement reads.
The HKSAR government said it will also explore whether to allow tour group travelers with short-term stays in Hong Kong to undergo fewer nucleic acid tests upon their arrival in Hong Kong and daily rapid antigen tests during the itinerary, “while balancing the epidemic risks”.
For travel groups to avail of these arrangements, their licensed travel agents should pre-register their itineraries with the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC), and strictly follow anti-pandemic measures.
The government said it will discuss with the TIC the implementation details of these arrangements, including the coverage of designated tourist attractions.
In a separate statement, the Center for Health Protection said there were 5,198 new COVID-19 cases on Monday while five infected patients passed away.
The new cases included 4,634 local infections and 564 imported cases, or an increase of over 40 percent from the 395 imported cases on Sunday, when the city reported 4,593 COVID infections in total.
According to the CHP statement, the Public Health Laboratory Services Branch had identified 208 cases of sub-lineage XBB, six of XBD, eight of BA.2.75.2, seven of BA.4.6, 11 of BF.7 and 29 of BQ.1.1 among the imported cases.
Eleven cases of sub-lineage XBB, nine of XBD, one of BA.2.75.2 and 19 of BQ.1.1 have also been detected among the local cases.
The new five deaths brought this city’s tally to 10,262 during the current pandemic wave, and 10,475 since the start of the pandemic, the CHP said.
A Security Bureau spokesman said Under Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk Hau-yip has tested positive for COVID-19 through a nucleic acid test.
Cheuk, who is undergoing isolation, last went to work on Monday morning and had no recent travel history. He also wore masks and followed anti-virus rules at work, including conducting rapid antigen tests daily.
Violent attack on nurses strongly condemned
Meanwhile, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau strongly condemned the violent attack on two nurses at United Christian Hospital on Sunday and stressed that the HKSAR government has zero tolerance towards any violent acts in medical institutions.
A male COVID-19 patient in an isolation ward at the hospital assaulted two nurses, who needed stitches for their injuries, local media reported.
Lo sent his regards to the nurses injured in the incident and wished them a speedy recovery. He also instructed the Hospital Authority to review the security measures in all its hospitals to ensure the safety of its staff and patients.
As of Monday, a total of 1,966 COVID patients were being treated in public hospitals, including 213 new patients, the HA said.
Thirty-seven patients were in critical condition, including 11 receiving intensive care, while 52 were in serious condition, the HA added.
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