Hong Kong to drop COVID test for bars, entertainment venues
HONG KONG — People in Hong Kong from Thursday will no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test to get into bars and restaurants while cinemas and performing venues will be allowed to operate at full capacity, health authorities said.
“The government is looking deeply into where we can further relax measures so we can go back to normal life,” Libby Lee, the city’s under secretary for health told a media briefing on Tuesday.
Hong Kong has for nearly three years largely followed China’s lead in tackling the novel coronavirus.
China this month began dismantling its stringent “zero-COVID” regime of lockdowns and testing after protests against curbs that had kept the virus but at a big cost to society and the world’s second-largest economy.
Hong Kong’s relaxation comes a week after it announced that people arriving in the Chinese territory from outside mainland China would or from Macau would no longer face COVID movement controls or be barred from certain venues.
The city government last week also scrapped a mandatory COVID mobile application that was required to check in to most venues such as gyms, beauty salons and schools.
While Hong Kong has effectively dismantled many of its stringent COVID rules in recent months, masks are still compulsory in public places unless exercising, and a vaccine pass is required to enter many venues.
City leader John Lee said on Tuesday the government was taking a gradual approach to relaxing restrictions to minimise public health risks.
Lee will go on a four-day duty visit to Beijing on Wednesday where he said he would report on Hong Kong’s political and economic environment as well as the COVID situation.
A closely anticipated full reopening of Hong Kong’s border with mainland China and quarantine free travel between both places is expected to be on the agenda.
While bar and restaurant customers have had to show a negative test, entertainment venues such as cinemas, museums and theme parks have been operating at 85% of capacity.
Banquet facilities, bars and nightclubs will also be able to operate at full capacity from Thursday.
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