Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday announced the relaxation of social distancing measures, including allowing some entertainment venues to reopen and schools to resume classes, as the COVID-19 pandemic was, what she claimed, subsiding in the city.

Entertainment venues including gyms, beauty salons and mahjong lounges will be permitted to restart operation from Friday on the condition that existing anti-pandemic measures remain effective, Xinhua news agency quoted Lam as saying.

Lam said bars can also resume operation but will be under strict requirements, such as limits on the number of customers and no musical performance.

Besides, restrictions on the number of diners at each table in restaurants will be loosened from four to eight, and group gatherings no more than eight people will be allowed.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam IANS

School reopens soon

Schools will start to resume classes gradually since May 27.

The policy loosening came amid easing signs of the epidemic in Hong Kong where there have been no new local infections for 16 consecutive days.

However, Lam warned that there could be a resurgence of the COVID-19 spread and called on Hong Kong residents to stay alert.

Despite the partial relaxation, Hong Kong's social distancing measures that have been effective for more than a month and were due to expire on Thursday midnight will be extended for another two weeks, with some places of high contagion risks to remain closed, including karaoke lounges, party rooms and night clubs.

Hong Kong has reported no new local infection for 15 consecutive days, indicating a subsiding pandemic situation.