TOUGH measures bringing back restrictions on events and a ban on flights from eight destinations have been announced by the Hong Kong SAR Government as it tackles a feared fifth wave of Covid and the Omicron strain.
Event and performance venues will be among 15 types of business premises to close, including bars, cinemas, gyms, and sports venues such as Hong Kong Jockey Club’s two race tracks.
The measures – expected to be reviewed within two weeks – extend to the suspension of cruise-shop operations, dine-in services at restaurants after 6pm and restrictions on table seating during the day.
The Hong Kong Cyclothon is the most high-profile event to be cancelled as the SAR’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the reimposing of social-distance restrictions to contain a local outbreak of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus.
The outbreak has scuppered much-heralded plans for a phased re-opening of border crossings with mainland China beginning with quotas aimed at business travellers with work considered essential for the economy.
Government health officials are looking at a two-week period in which to “break transmission chains quickly” and control the situation before the Lunar New Year holiday at the beginning of February, local radio station RTHK reported.
Two-week bans have also been imposed on airlines for letting too many infected passengers to travel to Hong Kong. Finnair, Korean Air, Turkish Airlines, Thai Airways and Lufthansa are among the carriers affected by the restrictions, which come into effect on Saturday.
Disneyland Resort and Ocean Park will also shut while the bans will also hit the popular “Cruise to Nowhere” staycation breaks operating from Kai Take Cruise Terminal. The Spectrum of the Seas and its 2,000-plus passengers had to return to port for compulsory testing after nine people were identified as close contacts of a positive Omicron case in the city.