Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that Hong Kong residents returning from the Chinese mainland can be exempted from the 14-day quarantine requirement from November.
Lam told the media before attending the weekly Executive Council meeting that a quota will be set at the beginning of the quarantine-free travel arrangement, allowing gradual and orderly resumption of personal exchange between the mainland and Hong Kong.
As for the travel bubble with Singapore, the aim of the HKSAR government is to start the scheme in November, Lam added.
Lam said that long-term community testing centers will be set up throughout the territory so that the HKSAR government can mobilize testing services swiftly when there are cluster outbreaks.
These centers can also offer paid testing services for people who need a valid proof of a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test result when leaving Hong Kong, she said.
Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection (CHP) reported five additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, all are imported cases, taking Hong Kong's tally to 5,308. According to Hong Kong's Hospital Authority, 116 patients are still being treated in hospitals, including 11 in critical condition.
Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health of the HKSAR government, said that after taking into account the latest public health risk assessment and the economic situation, the HKSAR government decided to relax social distancing measures.
Starting from Friday, dining services in restaurants will be allowed to extend to 01:59 a.m., the number of diners at each table will be loosened from four to six. As for bars and pubs or nightclubs, the upper limit of people per table will be raised to four. Diners can only take off their masks when eating or drinking at the table, Chan said.
Live performances and dancing activities will be allowed to take place in catering premises subject to implementation of suitable infection prevention control measures. The total number of people allowed in restaurants, bars and pubs, theme parks, swimming pools will be increased to 75 percent of the capacity of the premises.