Hong Kong Social Distancing And Travel Rules For Covid-19: What You Can And Can’t Do
With the Hong Kong government declaring that the Fourth Wave of Covid-19 in the city has subsided and vaccination rates continuing to rise thanks to the city's incentive programmes, social distancing and quarantine restrictions will be further relaxed for residents later this month. The government announced a number of significant changes to social distancing restrictions on Monday, June 21, 2021. Read on to find out more about the current guidelines.
This article was originally published on July 14, 2020 and was updated on June 29, 2021.
Since December 2, the limit on group gatherings in Hong Kong was capped at two––but from early March, this was extended to allow groups of four to gather in public, with this still the case as of the end of April. In the June 21 announcement, the government confirmed that the group gathering size will stay at four until further notice.
Only in places such as on public transport, hospitals, office buildings and funerals are larger groups allowed to gather.
Wearing a face mask is also still mandatory in public settings, this includes on public transport, in shops and supermarkets and in building lobbies. However, if you're looking to exercise outdoors––be it going for a run or a hike––and in country parks, you are not required to wear a mask during.
The maximum penalty for those gathering in public spaces or for "any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of the gathering; and knowingly allows the gathering" remains at $25,000. The government has also stated that individuals who participate in a prohibited group gathering may be fined $5,000, an increase from the previous $2,000.
See also: 10 Stylish Face Masks To Wear Now
After a rollercoaster ride with ever-changing restrictions, restaurants were almost back to usual service in the latter half of 2020, but with the fourth wave of infections sweeping the city, in December, many restrictions were put back in place.
After re-opening the opening for dinner service and larger party sizes in February 2021, the city's dining out restrictions have gradually been relaxed, with further lifting of measures announced on June 21.
The newly updated "vaccine bubbles" divide restaurants into four category levels:
1. Restaurants that do not participate will only be allowed to operate with up to two people per table until 6pm.
2. Restaurants that require staff members to be tested every 14 days and customers to use the LeaveHomeSafe app will be allowed up to four people per table, operating until 10pm.
3. Restaurants where all staff have received one dose of the vaccine and whose customers use the LeaveHomeSafe app will be allowed to seat up to six people per table, and operate at 75 per cent venue capacity until midnight.
4. Restaurants in which all members of staff have been fully vaccinated––and where customers have received at least one dose––will be allowed to operate until 2am, with up to 12 people per table, at 100 per cent capacity. Venues who fulfil these criteria will also be able to host banquets with up to 180 people–– provided that at least two-thirds of patrons have received at least one dose vaccine.
Businesses and customers who want to participate in the vaccination bubble will be required to use a new government app that will show how many vaccine doses a customer has received.
Children under the age 15 who are accompanied by an adult, along with elders over the age of 65 will be exempted from using the LeaveHomeSafe app under the new arrangements.
These changes are set to begin on June 30, just in time for the public holiday.
Bars have been amongst the hardest hit businesses since the start of the pandemic, forced to close for prolonged periods in 2020. Having been allowed to reopen in September, bars once again had to shut their doors in November, and have remained closed since.
As of June 22, bars, nightclubs and karaoke lounges will be further able to reopen in line with the government's new rules for vaccinated staff and customers.
Relaxing of social distancing rules means that bars that can ensure that staff and customers have received at least one vaccine dose will be allowed up to four people per table, and will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity until 2am. Karaoke lounges and party rooms will be allowed up to eight people per room, and will also be permitted to open until 2am.
See also: These Alcohol Delivery Services In Hong Kong Will Bring The Bar To You
Hong Kong gyms were also dealt many blows in 2020, and had to close again from December 10, only opening again in mid-February.
It is required for everyone working out to wear masks throughout, along with following all other social distancing restrictions and using the LeaveHomeSafe tracing app upon entering.
More details on relaxing of social distancing restrictions for gyms––which will be dependent on the vaccination rate of staff and members––are set to be announced in the coming days.
See also: 7 Fitness Video Games To Try For A Fun At Home Workout
Closed since December 10, on March 29 it was announced that all government beaches will be able to reopen from April 1. Public group gatherings are currently capped at four people, with this rule also applying to beaches.
Official campsites and barbecue areas remain closed.
See also: The Most Beautiful Beaches To Visit In Hong Kong
After over two months of closures, salons, including nail salons and massage parlours were permitted to open from February 18. As of June 21, the rules for beauty parlours have been extended and not changed.
Hair salons and barbershops have been permitted to remain open through the pandemic, with extra restrictions put in place.
When visiting any of these establishments, expect to have your temperature taken, fill out a health declaration form and wear a mask for the duration. A distance of 1.5m will also have to be maintained between all clients, along with all staff having to wear both masks and face shields.
See also: 6 At Home Beauty Services To Try In Hong Kong
Hotels, pools and spas
If you have a staycation booked, you don’t need rush to cancel as hotels have been permitted to remain open, following strict health and safety procedures.
On November 16, the number of people permitted in a hotel room was capped at four (unless in a group from the same family).
Spa services resumed in early March, with hotel and public pools also able to finally reopen from April 1. On June 21, it was announced that swimming pools will soon be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
See also: The Best Hong Kong Airbnb Properties For A Luxe Staycation Out Of The City
One of the most significant announcements from the government's June 21 briefing was that restrictions around weddings will be relaxed. Venues that host group events––including wedding ceremonies, religious gatherings, and business events––will be able to further open. Good news for brides and grooms-to-be!
If venues can prove that two-thirds of attendees have been vaccinated, they will be able to operate at 100 per cent capacity, effectively lifting group size restrictions for weddings. If venues do not have this vaccination rate, they must operate at 50 per cent capacity.
See also: Real Weddings: Inside Rina Hiranand & Aaron Davis's Chiang Mai Celebration
The city's theme parks, Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disney have also been affected by the restrictions.
Due to the fourth wave both parks were closed as of December 2, but were able to reopen from February 18.
See also: Water World Ocean Park In Hong Kong To Open This Summer 2021
All LCSD museums also closed temporarily from December 2, and libraries from December 10, with cinemas also closed. From February 18, were permitted to open.
As of April 1, cinemas, performance venues and theme parks will also be allowed up to 70 per cent capacity––up from the previous 50 per cent cap. It was confirmed on June 21 that these guidelines will be extended.
See also: Work From Home: Productivity Tips For Remote Working
Travel restrictions are still in place, with only HKID cardholders able to enter Hong Kong, and the majority of arrivals having to quarantine in a hotel for 14-21 days, depending on where they have travelled from.
On April 12, the government confirmed that they will be reducing the length of quarantine imposed on fully vaccinated arrivals from certain low-risk places, such as Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, falling from 14 days to seven or even less.
As of June 1, the "group B" countries––who require 14 days of hotel quarantine only are Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America.
For the second time, inbound passengers flights to Hong Kong from the UK have been banned––effective July 1. Travellers who have spent two hours or more in the United Kingdom in the 21-days before they travel will not be able to enter Hong Kong. This new restriction––which is designed to keep the infectious Delta Covid-19 variant out of Hong Kong––is a u-turn on the recent measures, which allowed fully-vaccinated arrivals from the country to quarantine for just 14 days.
Fully vaccinated travellers from Australia and New Zealand only have to complete 7 days of hotel quarantine, and 7 days of self-monitoring due to their low-risk status.
On June 21, it was announced that inbound fully-vaccinated travellers from a number of low-risk countries (places with low case numbers and/or high vaccination rates) who are able to get an antibody test proving their immunity will be subject to 7-day hotel quarantine.
Countries designated by the Hong Kong government as Group "B" or "C" and Taiwan are eligible for the antibody-based quarantine reduction––which will begin on June 30. Find out everything you need to know about antibody tests, including where to book on in Hong Kong, here.
Inbound travellers who complete 7 days of hotel quarantine will need to self-monitor for 14 days after their release and take Covid-19 tests on day 12, day 16 and day 19.
Due to Singapore's recent increase in infections, the much-anticipated Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble has now been postponed for a second time.