Hong Kong is set to ban dining at restaurants completely for a week effectively. Also, residents will not be permitted to assemble in groups of more than two as the city expects to witness a record increase in the number of COVID-19 cases amid a resurgence of the coronavirus infection, it was reported on Monday.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, "The pandemic situation in the city continues to be severe, and confirmed cases in the past week continue to surge rapidly. We have many untraceable cases and it's difficult to eliminate the hidden transmission chain in a short period of time. We must stay alert."
Record Number of Cases
If confirmed, Monday would mark the sixth straight day Hong Kong has logged more than 100 new infections, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper. The new restrictions, which will include an expansion of compulsory mask-wearing to cover outdoor areas, were endorsed at a Monday morning meeting of the Executive Council, city leader Carrie Lam's de facto cabinet. It will come into effect on Wednesday.
Restrictions In Place To Contain Disease
Only those under the age of two or with a "reasonable excuse" such as medical conditions will be exempted from the new mask regulations, with no exemption granted for exercise. Those who flout the new rules will be subject to a maximum penalty of HK$5,000. The number of persons allowed to gather in public spaces was previously tightened from 50 to four on July 15.
"Considering the recent developments, with cases not wearing masks and the risk of social activities, we must immediately tighten social-distancing measures," he told SCMP newspaper. "We appeal to the public to stay at home as much as possible," he added. The city's overall tally of COVID-19 infections stood at 2,633 as of Monday morning, with 20 deaths.
(With inputs from agencies)