(To watch the full media briefing with sign language interpretation, click here.)

 

The Government will further relax social distancing measures on September 4, Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan announced today.

 

The dine-in services at catering businesses will be extended for one more hour and more scheduled premises will be allowed to reopen. The relaxation measures will last until September 10.

 

Prof Chan explained at a media briefing this afternoon that the Government made the decision to ease social distancing rules after careful consideration and stressed that during the process, it will closely monitor the COVID-19 situation.

 

“We have always been using the suppress and lift strategy in our epidemic control. While this third wave of epidemic has been subsiding and also becoming a little bit more stable right now, we still have some unlinked cases. Also, there could be some changes and we have to observe the situation very closely.

 

“After careful consideration, we have decided to slowly and gradually relax some of the social distancing measures.”

 

Following the extension of the dine-in services to 9pm late last month, the services will now be extended to 10pm.

 

“The reason why we have extended dine-in services by one hour is because we listened to many of the citizens telling us that sometimes it seems that they are a bit rushed in having dinner because Hong Kong people tend to work late, and therefore slightly extending it by one hour would hopefully serve the purpose.

 

“The catering businesses have also made this suggestion as well. So, this time, after our careful consideration, we think this is doable.”

 

Among the scheduled premises that can be reopened are some outdoor and indoor sports premises and fitness centres. This is in addition to the cinemas, beauty parlours and designated outdoor sports premises which reopened earlier.

 

“For the premises that we have opened, they are largely sports premises because we gather that many people would like to do some exercise and some sports in the midst of the epidemic which has lasted for about eight months now.

 

“So people are tired and fatigued and therefore, doing some exercise would also bring about physical as well as mental health.”

 

Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui said the fitness centres will run on a restricted basis and that the patrons must undergo body temperature checks before being allowed entry. He added that a distance of at least 1.5 metres should be kept between each exercise machine.

 

Prof Chan reminded the public to maintain good personal and environmental hygiene and not to let down their guard during the fight against COVID-19.