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Rules for vaccinated staff relaxed

The Government today announced its decision to maintain the current social distancing measures and specified that premises' staff who have completed a COVID-19 vaccination course will not be required to undergo regular testing.   The Food & Health Bureau pointed out that the number of local confirmed cases has declined to a lower level.   However, it explained that to continue containing the spread of the disease and to strive for zero case as soon as possible, taking into account the pressure for potential rebound of the epidemic brought by earlier relaxation of social distancing measures and the frequent gatherings among the public during the long holiday, the existing social distancing measures must be maintained for two more weeks.   Noting that the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme has been smoothly implemented for a while, the bureau said some staff of the catering business premises or scheduled premises have completed the vaccination course, ie after 14 days following

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Infection control at gyms tightened

The Government today announced that it will tighten infection control measures in fitness centres from March 12 for a period of six days till March 17.   People in the fitness centres will be required to wear a mask at all times, except when having a shower or consuming food or drink at a table in catering premises. Other requirements currently in place will remain unchanged.   The Food & Health Bureau explained that in view of the recent large-scale coronavirus outbreak in fitness centres, it had to tighten infection control measures with immediate effect to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, in particular reinstating the mask-on requirement.   In all circumstances, particularly in an indoor setting, not wearing a mask is a high-risk behaviour and is prone to virus infection or transmission.   The bureau also pointed out that the first case of the fitness centre cluster was detected through regular testing required under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Requirements & Directions) (Business & Premises) Regulation.   It stated that many of the confirmed cases in this cluster were in good health all along and did not show any symptoms when they were confirmed positive for COVID-19.   This demonstrated that high-risk groups such as staff of fitness centres and other scheduled premises who have frequent contact with others should undergo regular testing in order to break the transmission chain in the community successfully.   The Government announced earlier that all staff of scheduled premises, including those of fitness centres, were included as a vaccination priority group under the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.   Relevant staff are urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible as a higher proportion of people receiving vaccination in the community will strengthen the control of the epidemic situation, thus creating the conditions for relaxing social distancing measures.   The bureau appealed to fitness centres to strictly comply with the requirements, including arranging for their staff to undergo testing once every 14 days. They can make an appointment for free testing at a community testing centre.   The Government emphasised that it will closely monitor the epidemic development and the compliance situation of infection control measures by fitness centres.   It added that if necessary, it would not exclude the possibility of adopting more stringent measures to contain the epidemic, including requiring fitness centre staff to undergo testing at more frequent intervals or the closure of all fitness centres.   Managers of fitness centres who contravene the statutory requirements under the regulation are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months’ imprisonment.
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