Social distancing rules may be tightened: minister

Health secretary Sophia Chan said on Sunday that there is absolutely no way social-distancing measures can be relaxed with thousands of Covid cases a day, and instead authorities are looking into tightening the rules further.

Speaking on a radio programme, the minister said thousands of Covid infections were being confirmed each day, despite Hong Kong’s strictest anti-virus rules to date taking effect on February 10.

Chan gave no details of what changes were under consideration. She again urged members of the public to stay home as much as possible to reduce the flow of people in the community.

When it introduced the most sweeping social-distancing measures yet, the government said they were needed to protect public health and prevent the spread of an Omicron-driven fifth wave of Covid infections.

The rules banned private gatherings of more than two households and gatherings of more than two in public. Religious venues and hair salons have also been forced to close.

The closures were initially put in place until at least next Thursday.

That’s when the “vaccine pass” arrangement is scheduled to take effect, under which people must be vaccinated to enter a number of venues, including shopping malls, supermarkets, and department stores. The rules will not apply to public transport.

The pass will also be extended to all restaurants on Thursday, and it will be needed to go to places such as gyms and beauty parlours, which have been closed under social distancing rules since January.