The Hong Kong’s government will be relaxing restrictions on public gatherings and allowing gyms, cinemas, beauty parlors and others to re-open tomorrow (8 May).
As of yesterday (6 May), Hong Kong recorded no new cases of Covid-19. It was the 17th day in a row of no locally transmitted cases, with only a handful of imported infections over that period taking the city’s total to 1,040, with only 4 related deaths.
The easing of social-distancing rules also paves the way for bigger weddings and larger public gatherings.
Eight types of business, including amusement arcades, cinemas, gyms, beauty and massage parlors, and mahjong premises, could resume business in Hong Kong from tomorrow (8 May) onward, subject to conditions.
Bars can begin serving too, as long as they operate at half capacity. For weddings, 50 people can now be present, as opposed to 20 previously. Hong Kong’s 2,500 listed companies can hold shareholder meetings on public premises, capped at 50 people, with food and drink banned.
“We hope life can return to normal gradually with these venues reopening in stages, but some will reopen in the next phase after further consideration,” Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee told a radio programme.
The re-opening of some of the businesses in Hong Kong was announced on Tuesday (5 May) by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who was previously ridiculed by Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in Feb for wearing a mask to a press conference.
In a leaked audio, Chan told some Singaporean business people that if everyone in the Singapore government wore a mask to attend press conferences like what Ms Lam did, it would stoke panic among the public and Singapore’s hospital system “would have broken down” (‘Will Chan apologise to HK’s leaders for insulting them for wearing masks now that Singapore “u-turns” on mask usage?‘).
Singapore’s COVID-19 cases surge past 20,000
Meanwhile, Singapore under the 4G leadership of Chan and his colleagues reported 788 new COVID-19 cases as of noon yesterday, taking the country’s total to 20,198 (‘Singapore’s COVID-19 cases rise past 20,000 with 788 new infections; 2 more deaths‘, 6 May).
The Ministry of Health (MOH) also reported two more deaths, both Singaporeans. One of them was a 73-year-old man linked to the Mustafa shopping mall cluster. Singapore’s total death toll from the disease now stood at 20.
Of the 788 new cases, 759 were migrant workers residing in dormitories and 16 residing outside dormitories, while 13 were in the community. Seven additional new clusters were also found.
Among the 13 community cases was a 64-year-old Singaporean woman who was a patient at St Luke’s Hospital. The hospital said she had no symptoms but was tested as part of the hospital’s precautionary measures. She has been transferred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
“The affected ward has undergone deep cleansing and disinfection. Testing of patients and staff working in the ward have started,” said St Luke’s Hospital.
As of yesterday, 1,462 confirmed cases are still in hospital while a total of 17,082 have been housed at community facilities to free up hospital spaces.
Unlike Hong Kong, Singapore heavily relies on migrant workers to run its economy. At the moment, Singapore has close to 300,000 workers who live in either purpose-built or factory-converted dormitories. Non-profit organizations like TWC2 has criticised the Singapore government for allowing the workers to live in poor conditions found in some of the dormitories and raised alarms in February about potential outbreaks within the dormitories.