Banquets can grow, but still only four people outside

Officials said on Tuesday that while most of Hong Kong’s social distancing rules are to be kept in place for now, including mask requirements and a four-person public gathering limit, they are easing restrictions on banquets.

From September 30, restaurants with fully vaccinated staff can increase the size of banquets from 180 to 240 people, as long as two-thirds or more of the guests have had at least one Covid jab.

“It is worrying that the elderly will be subject to extremely high risks of getting seriously ill and death if there is a fifth wave of epidemic. In this regard, we need to maintain most of the social distancing measures currently in place,” a statement said, adding that restaurants have “already taken stringent anti-epidemic measures”.

Health authorities reported 13 new imported coronavirus cases on Tuesday, involving people who flew in from Morocco, Kenya, Italy, India, the United Arab Emirates, the US, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines.

Two of the new patients were found to have the N501Y mutant strain when they arrived in the SAR on Sunday.

One was a 37-year-old man living in Jones Hive in Causeway Bay who returned from India, and the other a 39-year-old man living in Hankow Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui who flew in after spending time in India and the United Arab Emirates.

The Centre for Health Protection said they were issuing compulsory testing orders to people who had been to places these two men had visited in the SAR.

Authorities added that they have temporarily banned Qatar Airways’ passenger flights from Doha, after four passengers on one of the airline’s flights were confirmed to have the virus when they arrived on Sunday.

Meanwhile, health authorities said they were looking into what they called a “non-locally” confirmed case. This involved a fully vaccinated 37-year-old woman who travelled to Macau by bus via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai Macau Bridge on September 19. She tested positive in Macau a week later.