HONG KONG • From tomorrow, Hong Kong will ban gatherings of more than two people not from the same household, close down restaurant dining and introduce mandatory face masks in public places, as it tries to rein in a new coronavirus outbreak.
It will be the first time the city has completely banned dining in restaurants.
“The situation is very worrying,” Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said yesterday, adding that the current outbreak is the most severe the city has experienced.
The measures will be in place for seven days, he said.
Hong Kong has seen a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus cases over the past three weeks, with yesterday the sixth consecutive day of triple-digit infections. The authorities reported 145 cases, a new daily record, of which 142 were locally transmitted.
Since late January, more than 2,700 people have been infected, 20 of whom have died.
The ban on dining at restaurants and food outlets threatens to complicate life for many people who depend on eating out for daily meals as their tiny apartments lack kitchen facilities.
The city, with a population of more than seven million, had earlier halted dine-in services from 6pm but allowed restaurants and cafes to function through the day as normal.
The authorities have warned that people have become too lax about wearing mask and social distancing. Over the weekend, they stepped up controls, sealing off popular beaches and introducing new rules to limit movements of ship and flight crews.
Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority says new cases are being found faster than public hospitals can take them in, according to public broadcaster RTHK.
China’s liaison office in Hong Kong said on Sunday that the central government will boost the territory’s capacity in tests and help set up hospitals.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE