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Asia Minute: Hong Kong Easing Some Restrictions

AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Restaurants on Oahu are now once again reduced to take out service, as part of the latest “Stay at Home” order. But a major city in the Asia Pacific is now letting restaurants stay open a bit longer than before.

Starting today, restaurant patrons in Hong Kong can linger a little longer at their tables. For the past six weeks or so, food establishments have had to close by 6 p.m. — after new coronavirus cases spiked in the city. Now restaurants can stay open until 9 p.m. — although at half capacity and with a limit of two people per table.

The president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades told the South China Morning Post that many food service establishments will likely offer 20 to 30 percent discounts to draw back some customers. The end result: continuing challenges for small business owners.

Other restrictions are easing slightly, but not all. Bars and gyms will stay closed — public gatherings are still limited to two people.

On the other hand, beauty salons can open – no more than two customers at a time, and people exercising outside will no longer have to wear masks.

Another date looming on Hong Kong’s COVID-19 calendar is next Tuesday — September 1. That’s when a Chinese government team will start a voluntary testing program for all Hong Kong residents.

So far, that offer has gotten a skeptical reception from local medical groups, who say they were not consulted.  The head of the Hong Kong Public Doctors Association told Reuters, “We feel uncomfortable about the whole thing.”

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