Hundreds of Hongkongers waited in long lines for a cable car ride on Lantau Island on Friday, looking for fresh air and a change of scenery over the long weekend as a welcome relief from months of Covid-19 rules.
The lines, mostly of families with children, began forming in the morning at the Ngong Ping 360 terminus in Tung Chung for a panoramic 25-minute cable car trip to the Ngong Ping highlands, home to the “Big Buddha” statue and Po Lin Monastery.
Visitors wore masks as required under social-distancing rules but stood near one another.
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Buses and private cars also caused congestion on the road leading to the tourist attraction. At the nearby bus terminus, hundreds waited to make their way home after their ride.
The cable car service reopened on September 11 after being closed from July after the third wave of coronavirus cases hit the city. Infections have dropped in recent weeks and the authorities have gradually relaxed social-distancing measures.
Friday was Ngong Ping 360’s busiest day since reopening and all 108 cable cars on the 5.7km (3.5-mile) route were in use, although detailed passenger numbers were not available, a spokesman said.
Waiting times were longer than usual because visitors from different groups did not share cable cars, the spokesman said. The average waiting time was about half an hour, according to riders.
Hongkongers went out in large numbers during the four-day long weekend, which started with the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday on Thursday.
Among those at Ngong Ping 360 in the afternoon was Yeung Shing-lim, who drove from his home in Fanling with his wife, three-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son.
Yeung said they had taken the cable car three or four times before, and enjoyed the view. He said despite the coronavirus and the related social-distancing measures, his family would go out every week or two to enjoy the open air, as long as they wore masks and took other precautions.
“We don’t confine ourselves to home all the time. I have got used to the pandemic, and I’m not particularly worried about the infection as long as we take precautions,” he said.
Teacher Pang Wing-fung, 36, travelled by bus from his home in Ma On Shan with his wife and 2½-year-old son for their first visit to the attraction since the pandemic started.
“We have been staying indoors for too long, so we want fresh air in places relatively distant and away from the city centre,” he said, adding that he was surprised to see so many people, but would take extra care.
Hong Kong reported three locally transmitted infections among the seven cases recorded on Friday, taking the tally of confirmed cases to 5,104, with 105 related deaths.
Places of worship were allowed to reopen on Friday at half their usual capacity, while the cap on four people meeting for team sports was also lifted at designated grounds.
But other measures, such as mandatory mask-wearing in public areas, social-distancing rules in restaurants and groups of not more than four people, would continue for another week, until October 8 at least.
According to Ngong Ping 360, all customers had to have their temperatures checked, and wear masks in the ticketing hall, waiting areas and cable car cabins.
All cabins and terminals were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and more daily cleaning operations were carried out. Cable car speed was also adjusted to allow sufficient time for cleaning after each ride.
The average daily number of visitors to the cable car was 4,445 last year, the company said.
More from South China Morning Post:
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