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Govt may ease social distancing

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)   Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan today said the social distancing measures for catering businesses and scheduled premises may be eased after the Lunar New Year holiday if the COVID-19 epidemic situation continues to improve.   Prof Chan made the announcement during a press conference this afternoon, saying that the Government may allow some previously closed premises to reopen and extend the dine-in services at restaurants to 10pm from February 18, subject to the epidemic's development.   “It seems that the epidemic situation is coming down slowly. Of course, if we follow this trend and there is no major COVID-19 outbreak, our intention is to open the premises that I have earlier announced, plus the catering businesses with four people per table and they can have dine-in services until 10pm.   “With the co-operation of the public and with the continuing trend - although slow - the continuing downward trend of the epidemic situation, then after the Lunar New Year holidays we would be able to reopen these premises and also relax the catering business measures.”   She also said those establishments will have to comply with two additional infection control measures. All staff of such premises will have to undergo virus testing every 14 days, and patrons will have to use the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app or provide their personal information to keep a record of their whereabouts.   “We intend to add an additional requirement for the premises owners or management to ensure that when people enter the premises, they would have to scan the QR code with their downloaded LeaveHomeSafe mobile app.   “As far as enforcement is concerned, of course, the relevant licensing authority and bureau would be responsible for the enforcement, plus all the authorised officers, and we will of course check the compliance with the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app requirement and carry out enforcement appropriately.”   Businesses that fail to comply with the measures would have to be shut down for three to 14 days, and operators may face a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months' imprisonment, Prof Chan added.
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