Compulsory tests to begin; prison threat for refusal

Compulsory tests to begin; prison threat for refusal
Hong Kong is introducing mandatory Covid-19 testing for high-risk groups with a threat of prison for anyone who refuses as the SAR steps up social distancing and quarantine rules.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan says the measures are essential if the SAR is to avoid a fourth wave of coronavirus cases. People who refuse a compulsory test face a penalty of HK$2,000 and will be issued with an order to take the test.

If they still refuse, the maximum penalty will be up to six months in prison and a fine of up to HK$25,000. The regulations take effect on Sunday.

“The signs are worrying, in terms of looking at all the cases and we have to do whatever we can in terms of our epidemic control measures to prevent the fourth wave from coming,” Chan said on Saturday.

The government will publish the groups of people covered by compulsory tests. It will include people with symptoms, those linked to an outbreak, and staff working in jobs deemed as high risk, as well as people completing quarantine. Doctors will be able to instruct people they believe have the virus to take a test.

Under new distancing measures starting from Monday, restaurants will be allowed to seat no more than four diners at a table instead of six. Capacity will be reduced from 75 percent of the usual level to half and businesses will have to close at midnight instead of 2am.

At bars, the number of customers permitted per table will also be cut from four to two, with people banned from drinking away from their tables.

There’ll also be tighter measures at the border from later in the week. Everyone arriving at the airport from a high-risk region will have to wait there until they receive their test results, including groups who’d previously been allowed to wait at home for the tests, such as air crew.

The government is also proposing to bar hotels from having more than four guests in a room unless they’re part of the same family. They’ll have to record the details of all guests. It follows a number of cases linked to groups taking staycations at local hotels.

People undergoing quarantine in hotels after arriving in the SAR will not be allowed to receive visitors. Hotels will have to place them on different floors to regular guests.

The SAR reported three local cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, one of which had no clear source. There were five imported cases.
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Last updated: 2020-11-14 HKT 19:08

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