Press Releases in Hong Kong

HK plans to ban unvaccinated from restaurants starting Jan 22

A man scans a QR code for the government's 'Leave Home Safe' app, used for contact tracing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to enter a restaurant in Hong Kong on Dec 9, 2021. (BERTHA WANG / AFP)

The Hong Kong government plans to ban people who have not taken their first COVID-19 shots from entering restaurants and other public venues from January 22, said Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee in a radio show on Sunday.

The government has been hinting at expansion of the vaccine bubble since community transmissions of the Omicron variant were confirmed on Dec 31. The expanded vaccine bubble will cover scheduled premises under the Prevention & Control of Disease Ordinance, including restaurants, gyms, cinemas and beauty salons.

The government has been hinting at expansion of the vaccine bubble since community transmissions of the Omicron variant were confirmed on Dec 31

Currently, people are already required to present vaccination certificates to enter nightclubs, bars and karaoke parlors. Government employees have to do so from mid-February.

Explaining the timing of the ban, Chan said that the government plans to officially announce the ban on January 20 to give people and business operators ample time to get ready.

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Chan did not exclude the possibility that the vaccine bubble might be further expanded to nursing homes or parks. “Venues considered of high risk to spread the virus will be added to the scheduled premises according to the needs,” she said.

Commenting on the recommendation for people having three jabs of the Sinovac vaccines to receive a fourth, Chan said that government noted additional shots might be necessary when announcing the booster shot program.

The advisory panel is closely monitoring the situation and possible new arrangement are discussed in the monthly meeting, she said.

Chan assured the public on the vaccine supply. “We have counted carefully. People won’t find vaccines not available when they wish to receive shots,” she said.

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Meanwhile, a government spokesman clarified that the government has absolutely no plan to place Hong Kong under lockdown and prohibit people from departing or coming to city, or to forbid people from dining in restaurants after 6 pm Monday.

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, the spokesman condemned those who spread rumors online and via WhatsApp on Hong Kong being set for a lockdown at midnight.

“Should any criminal elements be involved, the law-enforcement agencies will take action seriously,” the statement reads.

The spokesman said the government has been transparent with its epidemic control measures and will make announcements as early as possible.

“Any unhelpful speculation or spreading of rumors is counterproductive in the fight against the epidemic by the government and the people of Hong Kong," the spokesman was quoted as saying in the statement.

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"We appeal to members of the public to be vigilant against rumors and pay attention to information released by the government to avoid being misled," he added.