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October 2, 2022

Hong Kong is set to ease more social distancing measures from next Thursday, which will chiefly benefit restaurants and bars.

From October 6, the cap on the number of restaurant diners at each table will increase from the current eight to 12.

The 12-person rule will also apply to premises like party rooms and karaoke lounges.

Bars, pubs and nightclubs, meanwhile, will be able to serve up to six people per table from the current four, while the number of people attending banquets can go up from 120 to 240.

However, diners in groups of more than 12 and those going to bars will still have to present a negative rapid antigen test result upon entry.

Authorities also announced the scrapping of the suspension mechanism imposed on the cruise industry, which forces their ships to return to port if a suspected Covid infection is detected on board.

The announcement on Friday came as Hong Kong reported 4,023 new coronavirus infections, including 213 imported cases.

Eight more patients with Covid have passed away.

Speaking at a press briefing, Under Secretary for Health Libby Lee said further easing has to be conducted gradually to avoid a rebound in cases.

But she revealed that authorities are already looking into doing away with more Covid rules, such as the outdoor mask-wearing order.

“We would like to review this and hopefully it can be, at some stages, relaxed as well, if the whole condition in Hong Kong is actually under control. This is actually on our list,” Lee said.

“Hopefully we can review all the measures, and then in a paced way, we can actually relax one by one.”

Separately, the Hospital Authority said in view of the stabilising pandemic situation, more beds initially reserved for coronavirus patients will cater for non-Covid patients instead, and the treatment centre at the AsiaWorld-Expo will return to standby mode.

Around 80 percent of non-emergency services have now been resumed, the authority added.

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