HONG KONG: Hong Kong will expand the size of public gatherings to four people and reopen more sports venues from Friday (Sep 11) as the Asian financial hub relaxes strict curbs against a third wave of the coronavirus.
The measures come as new daily cases have dropped into the single digits from three figures. Last week gyms and massage parlours reopened and night-time dining hours were extended.
Restaurants will be allowed to seat four people, up from two now, while indoor and outdoor recreation spaces will reopen, said Sophia Chan, the city's health secretary, but swimming pools are to stay shut.
"We must strike a balance. The third wave is entering two months already and we have yet to see an end to it," Chan told a news briefing, adding that new infections were being reported each day, some of unknown origin.
A mass testing scheme initiated by China for Hong Kong has picked up 16 new cases from more than 800,000 people tested, the government said on Tuesday.
About 1.2 million people in the city have sought tests from a population of 7 million.
READ: Wary Hong Kongers shun China-backed mass COVID-19 testing
Theme parks and convention centres could reopen on Sep 18 if conditions allow, authorities said, adding that Hong Kong was discussing travel bubbles with nations such as Singapore and Thailand.
Hong Kong Disneyland, majority-owned by the government with Walt Disney holding a minority stake, closed temporarily on Jul 15 for a second time this year due to the virus, after having reopened in June.
Hong Kong aims to reopen from Sep 23 for face-to-face classes, as it eases curbs that have kept about 900,000 students working at home for more than four months.