Hong Kong tightens virus curbs, cuts meetups to two people

HONG KONG: Hong Kong again tightened restrictions aimed at containing a rise in coronavirus cases yesterday, limiting gatherings to no more than two people, closing karaoke lounges and game centres and telling most civil servants to work from home.

The measures come in addition to restrictions announced on Sunday that will see all schools closed for in-person learning for the rest of the year from tomorrow.

Game centres, karaoke lounges and swimming pools will also close from tomorrow and civil servants, excluding those that provide emergency services, will stay at home, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told reporters.

The Ocean Park theme park and Disneyland will also close, said Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan.

"It will be very critical in the coming two weeks," Mrs Lam said.

Gyms and sports centres will remain open but to a maximum of two people at a time, while massage and beauty salons will stay in operation, the government said.

Restaurant dine-in hours will be shortened to 10pm from midnight, with no more than two people at each table. Meetups will also be capped at two people, down from four. Bars in Hong Kong are already shut.

Mrs Lam said there were 76 new cases yesterday, bringing the total in the city of 7.4 million to more than 6,300 since the epidemic started, with 109 deaths.

The overall figure was lower than Sunday's nearly four-month high of 115.

The latest rise in cases has also led to the postponement of a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore - due to have been launched on Nov 22.

Meanwhile, Malaysia recorded 1,212 cases yesterday. Total cases now stand at 65,697.

There were three deaths, taking the total to 360. - REUTERS, THE STAR