Live performances at entertainment venues could restart from next week’s Mid-Autumn Festival but other social-distancing measures would remain in place, as Hong Kong authorities confirmed three new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday.
The announcement will come as a relief to the coronavirus-stricken industry, but the new rules also require adequate spacing or partitions between performers and the audience.
Only half of event seats at most can be sold, and no more than four adjoining seats in a row will be allowed.
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Another tweak in the rules includes allowing public bowling alleys and snooker halls to open all their lanes and tables, if they are able to ensure adequate distancing or partitioning between those facilities.
The city’s leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, on Tuesday announced that most social-distancing measures, including limiting the number of people allowed to dine out together or gather in public to four, would remain in place until October 1, the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day.
Most leisure venues, such as karaoke lounges, bars, and theme parks, were allowed to reopen last Friday, subject to conditions to curb the virus’ spread.
Wednesday’s Covid-19 infections involved a returnee from Britain and two locally transmitted cases linked to other patients.
These mark a third straight day of single-digit increases, after a rebound to 23 cases on Sunday.
Meanwhile, an 83-year-old Covid-19 patient, suffering from chronic illnesses, died on Wednesday afternoon, taking the virus death toll to 104. Hong Kong has recorded 5,049 infections so far.
But with the number of imported infections remaining high, authorities are under pressure to classify some European nations as high-risk in a bid to crack down on the virus being brought into the city.
Eight infections were recorded on Tuesday, with five of them imported. The city has maintained its trend of declining coronavirus infections in recent weeks, down from more than 100 a day at one point in July, but the number of imported cases remains high.
Of the 236 cases confirmed in September so far, 99, or 41 per cent, were imported. But the situation got worse over the past week, with 63 per cent of cases involving people returning from overseas.
On Tuesday, public health expert Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, who advises the government on the coronavirus situation, called for travellers from countries such as Britain, France, Spain, and Russia, to be required to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test result, and hotel bookings for not less than 14 days, before boarding their flights.
Those returning from other destinations simply face a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Lam said a review of the travel arrangements was under way.
We are not like cinemas who can just reopen tomorrow
Ma Fung-kwok, lawmaker representing sports, performing arts, culture and publication constituency
Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, representing the sports, performing arts, culture and publication functional constituency, welcomed the government announcement, but feared the measure, introduced weeks after the reopening of cinemas, bars and karaoke lounges, would not be able to save the struggling sector.
“Many performers had zero income for months due to the closure of the venues. The markets are yet to warm up to online performances,” he said.
“And no one knows how long the new rule will last, if unfortunately, a fourth wave of Covid-19 strikes the city.”
He said some performances had been pushed back by six or more months since the beginning of the pandemic, and some would take weeks, if not months, to reschedule.
“We are not like cinemas who can just reopen tomorrow. We need to set the stage, lighting and acoustics, promote the events, do ticketing and many other things, before a show can be held.”
More from South China Morning Post:
- Coronavirus: Hong Kong pupils return to school en masse for first time in months as face-to-face classes resume
- Coronavirus: Hong Kong urged to add France, Spain, Britain and Russia to Covid-19 high-risk list
This article Live music, theatre and other performances to resume after Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong first appeared on South China Morning Post