HK to tighten social-distancing rules, health experts reveal, as city faces 78 new cases of Covid-19

01-Dec-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong is to tighten its social-distancing measures, health advisers to the government have revealed, and officials are prepared to offer cash subsidies to care home staff being forced to take a weekly coronavirus test.

The new moves came as a source said the city was expecting 78 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday.

According to Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, who was among the health experts at a meeting with government officials on Saturday, the closing of entertainment venues, including karaoke lounges and concert halls, was recommended.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

Experts also suggested shortening the opening hours of catering businesses to 10pm, as the city enters a critical phase of the fourth wave of the coronavirus.

“These are some of the suggestions we came up with during the first two hours of the meeting,” Hui told a radio programme.

“Definitely some social-distancing measures will be tightened but the government will make the final decision. ”

Hui said experts had not suggested lowering the number of people at each table in restaurants from four to two because, “only three restaurants have had a bigger outbreak”, and shortening the opening hours would already minimise the number of people on the streets.

In an exclusive interview with the Post on Sunday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also revealed that an extensive work-from-home policy for Hong Kong’s 177,000 civil servants would be laid out “in a day or two”, while warning tougher punishments for breaking coronavirus rules were coming.

At the moment, people who break the rules are issued a HK$2,000 (US$258) fixed penalty ticket.

Meanwhile, the government is expected to order all staff working in care homes for the elderly and disabled to take a coronavirus test before December 14, followed by a weekly test requirement.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong said on Monday all those employed in the care home industry, except those working in homes on outlying islands, would have to do a test at one of nine testing centres in the city, while a cash subsidy of around HK$200 would be offered monthly to each employee as the government planned to order them to get tested every week.

“As the staff have to travel back and forth for the weekly tests, they might at least need HK$200 as travelling fees, and I understand they have to spare time for the tests,” he said.

Law said they had explored with some representatives at care home centres whether they could help provide spaces for mobile coronavirus test vehicles, but none of them accepted the suggestion.

“I guess they are worried that staff from other elderly centres would come to do the tests, so no care home centre agreed to such an idea,” he said.

The labour minister also said the Social Welfare Department would amend the code of conduct for care homes, making them responsible if staff did not get tested in the next two weeks. Employees should not return to work if they fail to take a test, Law added.

On Sunday, the city recorded 115 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally to 6,238 cases, with 109 deaths.

Hong Kong’s “super-spreader” dance venue cluster continued to expand, with 479 confirmed cases so far, while health authorities identified a new group of cases at three restaurants with more than 10 servers, cleaners and customers confirmed sick.

Authorities were still investigating whether both clusters were linked.


Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post

Comments are closed.