Hong Kong, July 27 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong authorities on Monday announced a ban on gatherings of more than two people and suspended restaurant dining in an attempt to curb the rising Covid-19 cases in the city, officials said.
This is the second time this month that the government has reduced the number of people allowed in gatherings. Earlier on July 15, the government brought the limit down from 15 to four.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the situation in the city was “extremely worrying”.
The new restrictions to be implemented from Wednesday include the mandatory wearing of masks at all outdoor places, state broadcaster RTHK reported.
Officials announced a temporary ban on sports premises and swimming pools, while restaurants are allowed only takeaway services.
Hong Kong is witnessing a third wave of Covid-19 infections, with 140 fresh cases reported on Monday. This marks the sixth day in a row when the number of daily cases has exceeded the 100-mark.
Two fresh deaths were reported due to the disease within the last few hours, taking the total number of deaths in the city to 20.
Those violating the government restrictions will face fines of up to HK$5,000 ($645), although members of the same household will be exempted from the public gathering ban.
Cheung – the No.2 in the local government – urged employers to allow work from home.
Authorities have carried out around 400,000 tests among four high-risk groups – senior citizens and their caregivers, taxi-drivers, and employees of the food and real-estate sector.
They are now set to extend the program to mini-bus drivers, shopkeepers, and employees of special schools.
Officials also said they would ramp up the number of tests in badly affected areas, according to RTHK.
As of Monday, the number of total Covid-19 cases in the city had risen to 2,634 as per the data provided by the Center for Health Protection. Over 44 percent of the infections were registered in the last two weeks.
Another measure to curb the outbreak in recent days has been the blocking of cargo ships that change their crew in Hong Kong, a possible reason behind the latest spike in cases, although some experts have said that it might be too late.
Meanwhile, mainland China has also reported two fresh outbreaks, in the northwestern city of Xinjiang – where 41 fresh cases were registered on Sunday – and Liaoning in the northeast, which registered 14 fresh cases. EFE-EPA