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Hong Kong will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions later this month.
City officials said Thursday that, from April 21, restaurants will be able to operate until 10 p.m. with a maximum of four customers per table.
Other businesses – including beauty parlors, gyms, theme parks and cinemas – will also be allowed to open at 50% capacity.
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Regulations that only allow two households to gather will also be lifted and local tours and public gatherings of four people will be allowed to resume.
Bars and pubs will remain closed.
The number of COVID-19 infections in Hong Kong has declined in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, the city reported 1,260 cases in the community, down more than 95% from the peak of its coronavirus outbreak last month.
“To relax these measures, to allow some degree of normal activities in society, with more interactions among citizens, inevitably they will come with some transmission risks,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told reporters on Thursday.
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She called on residents to continue to comply with social distancing and to get vaccinated.
“While the number of positive cases reported every day has dropped to a relatively low level, in absolute terms they are still rather high,” Lam noted.
If another COVID-19 wave hits, Lam said Hong Kong is “much better prepared” to handle it, and she highlighted that the government has not yet given up on mass testing.
According to Bloomberg, Michael Tien – a National People’s Congress deputy and city lawmaker – said Wednesday that Hong Kong cannot reduce its one-week quarantine for incoming residents until Beijing moves past “COVID Zero.”
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“For us to cut it down to seven, already the mainland is unhappy and feels they cannot connect with us,” Tien said in an interview. “So, to go any lower than seven, forget it. If we go lower than seven, they may even ban Hong Kong people from going into Shenzhen.”
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center data shows China reported 25,960 new cases and 62 deaths in the past day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.