Hong Kong testing centres fully booked as businesses reopen

As the restrictions on businesses ease in Hong Kong, testing centres for COVID-19 are stretched to the max due to mandatory testing.
By: | February 19, 2021

As the number of new COVID-19 cases fall to single digits, Hong Kong has relaxed its social distancing rules. Under the new rules, dine-ins are permitted until 10 pm with a maximum of four people per table, and patrons are required to use the LeaveHomeSafe tracing app or having their personal information recorded. 

Other businesses allowed to reopen include beauty and massage parlours, gyms, theme parks, museums, performance arts venues, cinemas and other leisure venues, said Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan. 

All staff of these businesses must be tested every 14 days for the coronavirus. This has led to testing centres being fully booked with long queues at testing centres, and calls for the government to set up more mobile testing centres. 

The Catering Trade Workers Union has welcomed the relaxing of measures, but urged the government to set up more testing centres and deploy more mobile testing vehicles to lower the risk of workers congregating as they wait to be tested. 

Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades president Simon Wong was quoted saying that more than 20,000 workers from the catering sector were heading to testing centres daily. About 250,000 people are employed in this sector. 

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Professor Chan has said that there is now room for a gradual loosening of restrictions, but places such as bars, bathhouses, mahjong clubs, nightclubs, party rooms and swimming pools will have to remain closed.  

Vaccination for Hong Kongers is expected to begin next month using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. For emergency cases, the Sinovac vaccine can be used, said the vaccine advisory committee, according to The Straits Times.