Hong Kong to impose toughest social distancing restrictions

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong will impose new tough social distancing measures starting at midnight Tuesday, the toughest in Asian financial center since the coronavirus broke out, authorities warn of the risk of a large-scale epidemic is extremely high.

Passengers wear surgical masks in an MTR train, following the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) in Hong Kong, China on July 13, 2020. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

The measures stipulate that face masks will be compulsory for people using public transport and that restaurants will no longer provide meals in the departments and will only offer take-out after 6 p.m.

Both are new rules that weren’t implemented in the city’s first and second waves of coronaviruses earlier this year. If a person does not wear a mask on public transportation, they are liable to a fine of HK $ 5,000 ($ 645).

CEO Carrie Lam said Monday the government would limit group rallies to four in 50 – a measure last seen in a second wave in March.

Twelve types of establishments, including gymnasiums and entertainment venues, are to close for a week.

“The recent emergence of local cases of an unknown source of infection indicates the existence of prolonged silent transmission in the community,” the government said in a statement on Monday.

The Chinese-controlled city registered 52 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, 41 of which were transmitted locally, health officials said. Since late January, Hong Kong has reported 1,522 cases and local media have reported an eighth death on Monday.

The government has expressed serious concern over the high number of imported cases and plans to impose further measures on travelers from high-risk locations, including obtaining mandatory negative test results before arrival.

Lam said the measures were the result of a three-way showdown between public health, economic impact and social acceptability considerations and that the city may need to coexist with the virus for a certain time.

According to a Reuters report, more than 13.02 million people were infected with the new coronavirus worldwide and 569,336 died.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Written by Farah Master; Editing by Michael Perry

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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