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Things you need to know about Hong Kong's social distancing restrictions

Stay up to date with the city's latest pandemic regulations

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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May 4, 2022: We're finally beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel as Covid-19 infections in the city continue to decline, and the government announces the next phase of the social distancing restrictions. From May 5 restaurants can extend table service to eight people per table from the previous four. Beaches and swimming pools will reopen, and mask-free exercising will be accepted in outdoor areas. 

From May 19, catering businesses can extend dinner service until midnight and bars, nightclubs (can operate until 2am), karaoke rooms, mahjong parlours, and cruises can resume operations. 

Read below for more information about the current restrictions and rules on public gatherings, and keep abreast on 'what you can or can't do' or 'what is still open'.

RECOMMENDED: Keep updated with the latest things to do and happenings in the city. Looking for ways to celebrate Mother’s Day? Treat mum to a lavish meal at top restaurants in the city and buy her some thoughtful gifts

What is the current rule about public gatherings?
Photograph: AFP/Bertha Wang

What is the current rule about public gatherings?

Gatherings of more than four people are banned in public places. If people are caught gathering in groups of more than the permitted number, there will be a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months for 'any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of the gathering; and knowingly allows the gathering.' Participants caught in the illegal gathering may be discharged by paying a fixed penalty of $5,000. 

The only exemptions to the rule are gatherings in public for transportation purposes; for groups performing any governmental function; for groups gathering at a place of work or within hospital and healthcare facilities; persons living in the same household; proceedings in a court; funerals and any other occasions for mourning; and when taking pictures with your family and friends during events or group activities as long as everyone is wearing masks.

Most venues, including restaurants, gyms, hotels, cinemas, and more, are required to display QR codes for the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app, which records your whereabouts and checks whether you have visited any venues as a Covid-19 patient at the same time. Under the new ‘vaccine pass’ programme, Hongkongers without vaccination passes will not be able to enter designated premises, and this includes new admissions to elderly and disabled homes, shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets, and wet markets. 

Do I need to wear a face mask?

The government requires mandatory mask-wearing in terminals, public transport, as well as indoor and outdoor public places. Eating and drinking are also not allowed on public transport. 

From May 5, people are allowed not to wear masks in country parks or when exercising or jogging in outdoor areas. From May 19, the government will allow citizens not to wear masks when exercising in indoor sports premises and fitness centres. 

If you are caught violating the mask-wearing regulations, you will get a maximum fine of $10,000.

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Can I eat at the nearest restaurant?
Photograph: Courtesy N.I.C.E Yakiniku

Can I eat at the nearest restaurant?

From May 5, dining at restaurants is allowed until 10pm, and people will be able to dine in groups of eight from the previous four and banquets are capped at 20 persons. 

From May 19, catering businesses can extend dinner service until midnight and the maximum number of persons in a banquet will be increased to 120.

Restaurant staff are required to undergo rapid antigen tests every three days. 

Need inspiration for your next meal? Check out our list of the best brunches in Hong Kong, book a seat at the top restaurants in the city or check out the new restaurants opening this month

Can I drink at my favourite bar?
Photograph: Time Out Hong Kong/Joshua Lin

Can I drink at my favourite bar?

Bars and late-night venues were ordered to be closed in January, but starting May 19, bars, nightclubs, karaoke rooms, and mahjong parlours will finally resume operations and extend operations until 2am.  

Start planning your next after-work drink at these top bars in the city. Make sure to call the venue to check on their current operating hours.

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Do I need to get tested?
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Do I need to get tested?

If the government issues a Compulsory Testing Notice requiring individuals who were present during a certain period at any specified venue to be subject to compulsory testing, designated individuals must visit any of the mobile specimen collection stations, community testing centres (CTCs), or recognised local medical testing institutions to undergo professional swab sampling for compulsory testing. Fine for not complying with compulsory testing orders will receive a fixed penalty of $25,000 and imprisonment of six months. 

The government currently acknowledges self-administered RAT tests. Positive results may be reported on the government's designated platform.  

If you’ve tested positive, click here for a complete guide on what to do next

Can I still travel?
Photograph: Isaac Lawrence/AFP

Can I still travel?

All Hong Kong residents returning to town must adhere to relevant boarding, quarantine, and testing arrangements

Flight suspension imposed on nine countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and the United States were lifted on April 1. All passenger flights from these eight places initially prohibited until April 20 will be able to enter Hong Kong. Hotel quarantine for inbound travellers is adjusted to seven days from the previous 14 days. If you're a resident returning to the city, here's a guide on what you need to prepare before your departure.  

Hongkongers can plan outbound travels but make sure to check the government website of your country of origin and your intended destination to see what policies have been put in place and monitor the situation. A lot of countries have reopened their borders. Check out this list of top travel destinations currently open to vaccinated Hongkongers

From May 1, non Hong Kong residents are finally allowed to enter the city. Visitors must be fully vaccinated and are required to undergo the same quarantine requirements imposed for inbound Hong Kong residents which include booking a mandatory quarantine for seven nights at any of the designated hotels.

For information about countries/areas with reported cases of Covid-19, visit this link.

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Are swimming pools and beaches open?
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Are swimming pools and beaches open?

From May 5, beaches and swimming pools will reopen to the public as temperatures rise in the city. 

Visit this link to keep updated on various LCSD spots that will remain open or closed to the public. 

Looking forward to your next beach getaway once restrictions lift? Book a staycation at these beachside hotels and check out our guide to the best beaches in the city

Can I get a haircut in the nearest salon?
Photograph: Courtesy Mandarin Salon

Can I get a haircut in the nearest salon?

Salons have reopened since March 10. Nail salons and other cosmetic beauty services have also resumed operations since April 21.

Customers must have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and use the LeaveHomeSafe app before entering the premises. Salon staff are required to check guests' vaccination status before accepting walk-ins. 

Plan your next visit to the best salons in the city, but make sure to call to check on their new operating hours.

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Can I go out to watch a movie?
Photograph: Shutterstock

Can I go out to watch a movie?

Cinemas have reopened since April 21. From May 19, cinemas can will be allowed to accommodate up to 85 percent of their capacity and movie goers can finally eat and drink while watching the movies.  

Not ready to go to the movie house? Have a streaming marathon and catch our list of the latest Netflix shows

How about sports and fitness centres?
Photograph: Facebook/CrossfitCavaliers

How about sports and fitness centres?

From April 21, gyms and LCSD's indoor and outdoor venues have reopened, including sports courts, indoor games halls, and outdoor leisure venues such as sports ground tennis courts, bowling green courts, and basketball courts. 

Outdoor cultural facilities such as a children's playground and areas with fitness equipment are now operational. In April, the government allowed performance venues to operate for rehearsals and recorded or online performances without an in-person live audience to prepare for the potential reopening of designated venues. Sports premises and swimming pools have been opened for training Hong Kong representative teams and squads for specific sports events. 

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Can I book a staycation or cruise?
Photograph: Courtesy W Hong Kong

Can I book a staycation or cruise?

From May 19, cruise ships will finally be allowed to operate. 

Hotels remain open, but they must adhere to specific guidelines imposed by the government. That includes limiting the number of guests in each guestroom to four persons and up to eight people in a suite.

Room visitors are required to register their personal information. Intense hygiene practices must be implemented to protect their staff and the guests, which will include regular body temperature screening and thorough cleaning and disinfection of facilities and amenities before the arrival of a new guest. Hand sanitisers must be available in rooms. 

If you are a Hong Kong resident returning to the city, click here to see the full list of government-designated quarantine hotels

Beat your WFH blues with these work-from-hotel deals now available in the cityYou can also schedule a weekend getaway from the best beachside hotels, boutique hotels, or luxury camping spots in townIf you're planning a vacation for you and your significant other, check out the best romantic hotels in the city.

 

Ok, can I just go for an outdoor hike?
Photograph: Shutterstock

Ok, can I just go for an outdoor hike?

Any outdoor activities must be carried out whilst adhering to the social distancing rules. For the latest updates on facilities in country parks, call 1823 for enquiries or visit hiking.gov.hk.

Looking for the best hikes in the city? Here's our list of the best hiking trails in Hong Kong

For other thrilling adventures, bookmark our wellness guide to keep you updated with the latest hiking tips, trails, and outdoor activities to do around town. Looking for sweet escapes? These itineraries will let you reconnect and recharge while immersing in the city’s beautiful outdoor sceneries.

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This is so stressful, can I get a massage?
Photograph: TA

This is so stressful, can I get a massage?

Spa establishments and massage parlours are open. Steam and sauna facilities remain closed.

Registered Chinese medicine practitioners are allowed to operate, and if you need therapy for medical reasons, physiotherapy centres and certified chiropractic establishments remain open. 

If you're looking for other ways to destress, get started with CBD products, soothing candles, and essential oils. Or turn your attention to indoor plants to lower levels of anxiety and stress, bring a touch of nature into your homes with the help of these plant delivery services. You may also check out some of our recommendations for the best ways to unwind and relax while waiting for things to settle.

What other venues are reopening?
Photograph: Courtesy Ocean Park

What other venues are reopening?

Performance venues, theme parks, amusement game centres, places of worship, cinemas, bowling alleys, skating rinks, and museums have reopened since April 21.

From May 19, bathhouses, party rooms, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises be allowed to operate. 

Water World Ocean Park is reopening to the public on May 14 and ticket sales and online reservations will be available on Water World’s official website starting May 6. For other reopening venues, visit this link

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Are there areas in Hong Kong currently under lockdown?
Photograph: AFP/Peter Parks

Are there areas in Hong Kong currently under lockdown?

The government continues to enforce mandatory testing, where necessary, in the form of lockdowns in various parts of the community to help control the spread of coronavirus. 

During lockdowns, residents around the restricted areas are not allowed to leave the vicinity and are required to comply with the mandatory Covid-19 testing. 

For more information on lockdown affected areas, visit this website for regular government announcements.  

What if I have more questions?

In order to address questions from the public, the government has set up an FAQ page about the latest social distancing regulations. For the latest news and announcements from the government, you may visit gov.hk.

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