Hong Kong extends social distancing restrictions to contain coronavirus

Reuters

Posted at Apr 08 2020 11:31 AM

Tables and chairs are taped up to keep social distancing at a Starbucks coffee shop, following the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Hong Kong, China April 2, 2020. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

HONG KONG - Hong Kong said on Wednesday social-distancing restrictions including the closure of some bars and pubs and a ban on public gatherings of more than 4 people would be extended until April 23 as it battles to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The government said a "drastic" more than 2-fold spike in the number of cases in Hong Kong over the past 2 weeks to 936 meant the move was necessary. Four people in the former British colony have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Other restrictions that have been extended include the closure of gyms, cinemas, mahjong parlors, karaoke lounges and nightclubs. Beauty salons and massage parlors have been added to the list.

The global financial hub has also extended indefinitely a 2-week closure of its airport to foreign arrivals that was due to end on Tuesday.

While schools remain closed, many people work from home and shopping malls and restaurants are largely deserted, Hong Kong has stopped short of a full lockdown imposed in other cities such as London and New York.

The extension of restrictions comes as the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease is believed to have originated, started to allow people to leave on Wednesday for the first time since it was locked down 76 days ago to contain the novel coronavirus.