Why do we need to put in place these regulations?
Maintaining social distancing is key to delay the spread of COVID-19 in Hong Kong. The Government has been reviewing the feasibility of relevant measures and will make adjustments on a timely basis in view of the latest development of the disease.
Putting in place the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirement and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F) [the Regulation (Cap. 599F)] and the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) [the Regulation (Cap. 599G)] could help further enhance social distancing. When making the aforementioned Regulations, the Government has taken into account the activities and premises / places with higher infection risks of COVID-19, as well as overseas practices.
In view of the latest public health risk assessment, in particular the higher risks brought about by activities conducted without wearing masks as well as various social activities as shown in recent cases, at present, it is necessary to extend social distancing measures implemented under Cap. 599F, Cap. 599G and Cap. 599I, including requiring the cessation of dine-in services at catering businesses during specific periods, continuing to require closure of scheduled premises, as well as requiring any person to wear mask at all times when entering or being present in any public place.
What is the legal basis for the Regulation (Cap. 599F) and the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
The aforementioned Regulations are made in accordance with the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599). Section 8 of the Ordinance empowers the Chief Executive in Council to make public health emergency regulation for the purposes of preventing, combating or alleviating the effects of a public health emergency and protecting public health.
The above measures have balanced the oft-competing factors of public health protection, economic impact and social acceptance. They could help maintain social distancing while allowing room for resumption of social activities. The Government will continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation and review the various measures in place with a view to suitably adjusting them taking into account all relevant factors.
Are there other advice and more information?
The Centre for Health Protection strongly urges the public to maintain at all times strict personal and environmental hygiene, which is key to personal protection against infection and prevention of the spread of the disease in the community. On a personal level, members of the public should wear a surgical mask when having respiratory symptoms, taking public transport or staying in crowded places. They should also perform hand hygiene frequently, especially before touching the mouth, nose or eyes.
Please read and regularly visit the COVID-19 thematic website and the Facebook fan page of the Centre for Health Protection regularly for further information and updates.
Cap. 599F Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation
What are the directions of the Regulation (Cap. 599F)?
The requirements and restrictions under the latest directions (details at Annex 1) are as follows:
From 6pm to 4.59am of the subsequent day, save for specific premises (details at Annex 2), a person responsible for carrying on a catering business must cease selling or supplying food or drink for consumption on the premises of the business; and close any premises, or part of the premises, on which food or drink is sold or supplied by the business for consumption on the premises (i.e. no dine-in);
save for specific premises, a notice must be put up at the entrance to any catering premises to remind customers that food or drink should not be consumed in areas adjacent to that catering premises during the hours when consumption of food or drink on catering premises is not allowed;
no more than 2 persons may be seated together at one table within any catering premises;
tables available for use or being used by customers within any catering premises must be arranged in a way to ensure there is a distance of at least 1.5 metres or some form of partition which could serve as effective buffer between one table and another table at the premises;
the number of customers at any catering premises at any one time when consumption on the premises may be allowed must not exceed 50% of the seating capacity of the premises;
a person must wear a mask at any time within any catering premises except when the person is consuming food or drink on the premises;
body temperature screening on a person must be conducted before the person is allowed to enter the catering premises;
hand sanitisers must be provided at any catering premises for any person at the premises;
live performance and dancing must not be allowed in any catering premises;
all karaoke and mahjong-tin kau activities activity carried on at any catering premises must be suspended;
any premises (commonly known as bar or pub) that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors as defined in section 53(1) of the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance (Cap. 109) (“intoxicating liquors”) for consumption in that premises must be closed; and
any part of a catering premises that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors for consumption in that part must be closed.
All scheduled premises set out below are required to suspend operation:
Amusement game centres
Places of amusement
Places of public entertainment
Premises (commonly known as party rooms) that are maintained or intended to be maintained for hire for holding social gatherings
Establishments (commonly known as clubs or nightclubs) that are open late into the night, usually for drinking, and dancing or other entertainment
Mahjong-tin kau premises
Massage establishments (save for those set out in Annex 3)
Clubhouse (catering business therein must observe relevant direction)
The above directions and specifications will take effect at 0.00am on August 12 for a period of seven days till August 18.
What are the legal consequences for contravening the aforementioned regulations?
The persons responsible for carrying on the catering business and the managers of the above premises are reminded that contravening the aforementioned requirements would be a criminal offence. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Which catering business can be exempted from the “no dine-in” restriction?
Premises set out in Schedule 1 to Cap. 599F and certain catering business designated by the Chief Secretary for Administration in accordance with Section 7A of the Regulation can be exempted from the “no dine-in” restriction. The list of exempted catering business is at Annex 2. The exempted catering business still need to observe the social distancing requirements for dining-in as set out under items 3 to 12 in Question 1 above. According to section 4(1) of the Regulation, food or drink sold or supplied by a hotel or guesthouse as part of room service is excluded from the restriction.
If a catering premises ceases selling or supplying food or drink for on-site consumption, can customers bring their own food or drink for self-consumption at the restaurant? Will the person in charge of the catering business breach the Regulation?
A person responsible for carrying on a catering business must cease selling or supplying food or drink for consumption on the premises of the business and close any premises, or part of the premises, on which food or drink is sold or supplied by the business for consumption on the premises at any time.
Considering the implementation situation of the requirement to cease dine-in services above at some food courts in shopping malls, the Government amends the relevant provisions under Cap. 599F, to ensure that the relevant responsible person for carrying on the catering business and manager of the premises at which the food court is situated will close the seating area adjacent to the catering business, including seats provided in a food court.
Is staff canteen exempted from the "no dine-in" restriction? How to define such category?
Having considered the practical need and the exceptional circumstances of the case, the Chief Secretary for Administration has designated “canteens provided in any work place for the use exclusively of the persons employed in the work place and catering businesses during meal break of their employees” as an additional category of catering businesses for exemption from the “no dine-in” restriction. Such category does not include “factory canteen". The catering businesses which use part of their catering premises for employees to have their meals within their work place must designate the area during meal breaks of their employees and appropriate notice or segregation measures should be put in place to ensure that customers and members of the public cannot enter the area for dining inside. Besides, the waiting area for take-away services within the catering premises should be clearly segregated from the staff dining area, so as to avoid the risk of contravening the direction and virus transmission.
Can a wedding ceremony/wedding banquet/catering banquet be held?
Under the latest directions of Cap. 599F, persons responsible for carrying on catering businesses must cease selling or supplying food or drink for consumption on the premises of the business during the specified time period. Besides, the number of customers at any catering premises must not exceed 50% of the normal seating capacity of the premises and no more than 2 persons may be seated together at one table within any catering premises. Wedding banquet/catering banquet at catering premises must observe the above requirements.
Group gathering of not more than 20 persons during a wedding ceremony at which no food or drink is served is exempted under Schedule 1 to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G).
What is the definition of swimming pool?
Swimming pool means (i) any artificially constructed pool used for swimming or bathing (other than a pool specifically designed for use for hydrotherapy or other treatment purpose and a bathhouse) to which the public have access (whether on payment or otherwise) or that are operated by any club, institution, association or other organization; and (ii) includes any sidewalk immediately adjacent to the pool, any facility adjoining the pool and any spectator stand of the pool.
What is the definition of sports premises?
Sports premises means any premises (other than a fitness centre, a place of amusement and a swimming pool) designed for indoor or outdoor sporting activities (whether on land or not) to which the public have access (whether on payment or otherwise) or that are operated by any club, institution, association or other organization; and (ii) includes the land and structure within the premises including any pitch, running track, sidewalk immediately adjacent to the pitch or running track and spectator stand.
Scheduled premises designated by the Chief Secretary for Administration for exemption from closure according to section 9A of the Regulation are at Annex.
Does the definition of amusement game centre cover Internet Computer Services Centre (also known as “Internet Café”) (網吧) and electronic-sports (“e-sports”) venue (電競場地)?
Depending on the actual mode of business, the operations of Internet cafés and e-sports venues may fall under the meaning of an amusement game centre under section 2(1) of the Amusement Game Centres Ordinance (“the Ordinance”)(Cap. 435). According to the relevant provision, if the use or operation of the machinery or device in the Internet café / e-sports venue are in whole or in part for the purpose of amusement, recreation or entertainment on payment directly or indirectly of any consideration in money or money’s worth, such premises should fall within the definition of amusement game centre under the Ordinance. As such, the Internet cafés / e-sports venues with the abovementioned mode of operation must be closed in accordance with the direction issued under the Regulation.
What is the definition of beauty parlour?
According to Cap. 599F, beauty parlour means any premises on which one or more of the following types of services are provided:-
(a) chemical, mechanical or energetic procedure for beautifying purpose, including cosmetic procedures that involve skin puncture for non-medical purpose, on any part of the body (excluding hair on the head);
nail treatment services (including manicure or pedicure service, nail extension, nail polish and nail art);
hair loss improvement service (including hair transplant and hair weaving) for non-medical purpose.
Does the definition of beauty parlour cover tattoo parlour or piercing shop?
The definition of beauty parlour under the Regulation includes cosmetic procedures that involve skin puncture for non-medical purpose. As such, tattoo parlour and piercing shop must be closed as directed.
Does the definition of beauty parlour cover hair salon?
The definition of beauty parlour excludes hair on the head (except for hair loss improvement service) and hair salon is therefore not a scheduled premise subject to closure. Nonetheless, we advise relevant business to take infection prevention measures as appropriate, such as body temperature screening, wearing masks and performing hand hygiene etc., whenever providing high risk services that involve close contact with customers.
Does the definition of beauty parlour cover medical aesthetics centre? Which department is responsible for inspection and law enforcement?
The definition of beauty parlour under Schedule 2 to the Regulation is clear. Premises that offer beautifying procedure for non-medical purpose must be closed. Generally speaking, medical procedures performed by doctor-operated clinics (such as dermatological clinics) are not affected by the direction. The Police and Department of Health will enforce the direction in relation to the closure of beauty parlour.
Is door-to-door service provided by beautician subject to this direction? What about makeup artist?
Scheduled premises under the Regulation does not cover premises that have been constructed to be used, and are used, as a private dwelling. Although door-to-door beauty service is not subject to the direction, we advise service providers to take infection prevention measures as appropriate, such as body temperature screening, wearing masks and performing hand hygiene etc., whenever providing high risk services that involve close contact with customers.
If a beauty parlour provides a wide range of services including retail, beauty service, hairdressing, teaching etc., should the beauty service business be suspended only? Is the whole premises required to be closed?
Premises which provides one or more of the beautifying services for non-medical purpose under the definition of beauty parlour must be closed.
If a beauty parlour also provides other types of non-beauty services (such as hairdressing, retail or teaching) in the premises, so long as there is physical segregation of these activities from the places which provide beautifying services, depending on the actual circumstances, it may not be affected by the direction.
Does the definition of massage establishment cover premises that provide clinical massage treatments, or other similar services or treatments (such as establishment for physiotherapy)?
According to the Massage Establishments Ordinance (Cap. 266), massage establishment means any place used or intended to be used or represented as being used for the reception or treatment of persons requiring massage or other similar service or treatment. With reference to section (3) of Cap. 266, the Secretary for Food and Health have made exemptions under the direction for premises that provide clinical massage treatments, such as establishment for medical treatment operated by a medical practitioner, establishment for physiotherapy operated by a physiotherapist and premises for chiropractic operated by a registered chiropractor etc. from complying with the directions.
Does the definition of massage establishment cover foot massage establishment?
Although foot massage establishments are exempted under section (3) of Cap. 266, they are not exempted under Cap.599.
How is a premises determined to be one that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of liquors?
The latest directions issued by the Secretary for Food and Health under the Prevention and Control of Diseases (Requirements and Instructions) (Business and Premises) Regulation specify that any premises that is exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of liquors for consumption in that premises (bar, pub etc.) must be closed. Enforcement officers will, based on all relevant factors, determine whether or not the premises fall within the premises required to be closed under the directions. The proportion of liquor sale business to the overall business is one of the factors that they could make reference to.
Are religious premises required to close?
Religious premises is not one of the scheduled premises that are required to suspend operation under the Regulation (Cap. 599F) and are therefore, allowed to remain open. That said, individual worshippers practising religious activities on an individual basis in religious premises are still subject to the limit on the number of persons allowed in group gatherings under Regulation (Cap. 599G). Specifically, individual worshippers could not engage in any religious activities that involve group gatherings of more than two persons and are required to adhere to the restriction of maintaining at least 1.5 metres between different groups.
Cap. 599G Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation
What is the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
The number of persons allowed in group gatherings in public places is tightened from four to two, with effective from July 29. Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings at public places will continue during the 7-day period from August 12 to 18.
Are there exemptions under the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
The scope of existing exempted group gatherings is at Annex 3.
What are the legal consequences for contravening the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
Any person who participates in a prohibited group gathering; organises a prohibited group gathering; owns, controls or operates the place of the gathering; and knowingly allows the taking place of the gathering, commits an offence. Offenders are liable to a maximum penalty of a fine $25,000 and imprisonment for six months. Persons who participates in a prohibited group gathering may discharge liability for the offence by paying a fixed penalty of $2,000.
What are public places? Will private properties not be classified as public places?
Public places refer to places where members of the public can get access to from time to time. If private properties allow access by members of the public from time to time, such as cinemas, shops and restaurants, such private properties would fall under the definition of public places and hence the requirements regarding group gatherings in the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation will also be applicable. On the contrary, if the organizers have ensured sufficient measures/arrangements on admission/access control to the venues, which could prevent access of members of the public from time to time, such venues may not be regarded as public places.
Will a group of people queuing up for buses, using elevators, crossing the road or waiting for takeaways be defined as group gatherings?
Group gathering generally means a group of people who gather for a common purpose. However, whether a case is defined as a group gathering depends on its nature, such as whether the gathering is organised beforehand, whether there is any interaction between the participants, and whether the gathering only lasts for a very short period of time. Generally speaking, the definition of group gatherings does not apply to the abovementioned examples.
“Group gathering of persons living in the same household” is one of the exemptions. Will a family of any number of persons going to the park or shopping together be exempted?
For people living in the same household, their gatherings are exempted.
“Group gathering at a place of work for the purposes of work” is one of the exempted group gatherings. Is the exemption only applicable to the employees of an organisation working in the office of their organisation?
Generally speaking, “group gathering at a place of work for the purposes of work” refers to employees working at a place of work of their organisation. However, we understand that certain industries might have their special operational needs and judgment will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Will sales and marketing of new properties be exempted?
Members of the public participating in such activities will not be exempted. They must comply with the prohibition of group gatherings of more than 2 people, and there must be a distance of 1.5 metres or more between different groups.
Will groups distributing face masks in public places be exempted?
Generally speaking, group gatherings in public places for activities of purpose which is conducive to the prevention and control of diseases, such as distributing face masks, may be exempted. However, we appeal to members of the public to avoid public gatherings during this critical period to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
Under the prohibition on group gathering, will convening a annual general meeting (AGM) or extraordinary general meeting of shareholders contravene the regulation?
In accordance with Cap. 599, one of the exempted group gatherings is “group gathering during any of the following meetings at which no food or drink is served and measures are in place for separating the participants in the gathering in different rooms or partitioned areas, each accommodating not more than 20 persons –
a meeting of a body that must be held within a specified period in order to comply with any Ordinance or other regulatory instrument that governs the operation of the body or its business;
a shareholders’ meeting of a company listed on a recognised stock market (as defined by section 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571)) that is held in accordance with any Ordinance or other regulatory instrument that governs the operation of the company or its business”
When can religious groups resume their religious activities?
Previous exemption for group gatherings at religious premises will continue to be removed from July 15 to August 18. In other words, group gatherings during religious activities are subject to Regulation (Cap. 599G) under which only two persons are allowed in group gatherings in public places and the activities should also comply with the restriction of maintaining at least 1.5 metres between different groups.