Hong Kong Requires Negative Covid Test to Visit Bars, Clubs

HONG KONG residents will have to show a negative Covid test result to enter the city’s bars and nightclubs starting on Thursday and running through the end of the month, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said.

The decision comes as the city is seeing an increasing number of Covid infections, in many cases driven by transmission at nightlife venues that only recently were allowed to reopen. There have been six Covid clusters at the city’s bars since venues reopened, involving 350 cases, officials said.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s outgoing chief executive, said she won’t significantly change the current Covid curbs as the city awaits the inauguration of her successor, John Lee, on July 1. While recent cases have more than doubled since May, the overall number remains significantly below the peak of the omicron outbreak earlier this year – sparking business leaders to call for additional easing.

Any such moves could be reversed by the incoming administration, creating confusion, Lam said earlier on Tuesday during the final weekly press conference of her term. The health authority has turned its risk assessment measures over to the incoming chief executive’s office so that additional decisions on what should be done with social distancing measures can be determined.

There were 752 new local infections reported Tuesday in Hong Kong, officials said. New arrivals accounted for 97 infections.

While the number of cases remain more than double the level seen in May, few infections are causing serious disease. There was one new severe infection and one new serious case, officials said, with one additional death.

Law enforcement officials will step up efforts to uncover non-compliance among customers and management of social venues, Chan said at an afternoon briefing. Officials already are investigating 28 bars and pubs and 10 catering operations for violations. Facilities that break the rules will be required to close for two weeks, she said.

Patrons will be required to take a rapid antigen test at most 24 hours before they enter a bar or club, Chan said. They must show a photo of their negative result, provide their name and disclose the date and time they took the test. – Bloomberg