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Asia Minute: Hong Kong Cracks Down: This Time for Public Health

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Several states that have loosened restrictions are now tightening them again because of an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19. A number of other locations around the world are doing the same, and that includes Hong Kong.

Life is about to change in Hong Kong.

As of Wednesday, bars will be closed for at least a week. Same with gyms, karaoke lounges, and unlike Florida, authorities are closing their local Disney theme park — Hong Kong Disneyland.

Restaurants will only be open for dine-in service during the daytime — closing by 6 p.m. and no more than four people at a table.

Speaking of groups, gatherings of up to 50 have been allowed for several months — now that will be cut to groups of four.

Anyone not wearing a face covering on public transit can be fined up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars—about 650 dollars U.S.

The spark for changes was a spike in cases of COVID-19 — still relatively low by comparison to many areas, but high for Hong Kong. Monday’s numbers were 52 new cases, 41 of them locally transmitted, nearly half were untraced. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the new restrictions come from sometimes competing considerations of public health, economic impact and social acceptability.

In a line that now sounds familiar and nearly universal, Lam said, “Unless we have an effective vaccine which can be widely used in the community, we may need to co-exist with the virus for a period of time.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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