Hong Kong to shut bars in stronger social distancing measures

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 3, 2020
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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Thursday announced the decision to temporarily close bars and other liquor-selling premises in response to an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

The new measures to take effect for 14 days starting from 6:00 p.m. local time Friday will be applicable to bars, pubs and other premises exclusively or mainly used to sell liquors for on-site consumption, no matter in catering business or club-houses, according to a government statement.

A spokesperson for the Food and Health Bureau said the measures will help further enhance social distancing. Hong Kong has reported 62 COVID-19 patients suspected of being infected in bars and 14 other cases related to them, including a 40-day-old infant.

Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (about 6,450 U.S. dollars) and imprisonment for six months, according to the statement.

The move is part of the latest efforts of the HKSAR government to tackle an increasing number of infections during the past two weeks following the return of a large number of Hong Kong residents from virus-hit European countries and the United States.

An array of social distancing measures have already taken effect, such as limits on group gatherings and restaurant services and closures of karaoke lounges, mahjong parlors and night clubs.

Hong Kong reported 37 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 30 who have been to foreign countries, taking the total to 802. Of the seven local infections, two worked in a beauty salon and a fitness center, respectively.

While Thursday's new policy will likely put more pressure on businesses, the HKSAR government has promised more efforts to help them weather the economic hardships, following the first round of relief measures under a 30-billion-Hong Kong dollar anti-epidemic fund.

HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Thursday on her Facebook account that the government is at full swing to work out pro-employment schemes and she will discuss with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on measures to ease the financial pressures of businesses.

The government has cut rent of its property by 50 percent, Lam added, calling on private property owners to follow suit. 

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