Frequently Asked Questions on New Requirements to Reduce Gatherings

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do we need to put in place these regulations?
  2. What are the directions of the Regulation (Cap. 599F)?
  3. What are the legal consequences for contravening the aforementioned regulations?
  4. What is the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
  5. Are there exemptions under the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
  6. What are the legal consequences for contravening the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
  7. What are public places? Will private properties not be classified as public places?
  8. Will a group of more than eight people queuing up for buses, using elevators, crossing the road or waiting for takeaways be defined as group gatherings?
  9. “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?
  10. “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?
  11. Will sales and marketing of new properties be exempted?
  12. Will groups distributing face masks in public places be exempted?
  13. Under the prohibition on group gathering, will convening a annual general meeting (AGM) or extraordinary general meeting of shareholders contravene the regulation?
  14. What is the maximum number of persons that can attend a wedding ceremony? If the guests are seated with 8 persons per table, is it ok to arrange a wedding banquet in a restaurant? Does the celebrant count within the maximum number of persons?
  15. When can religious groups resume their religious activities?
  16. Could you give some examples of food or drink that serves as part of a religious ritual?
  17. Does a family (for example parents and their children) joining the religious activities together need to keep a social distance of at least 1 metre apart?
  18. If 8 consecutive occupied seats in a cinema have been arranged in a row, is it against the direction to arrange more seats in the same row when certain distance of 1-2 seats could be maintained?
  19. Should partition be placed for multi-players game station/machine/facility in amusement game centre?
  20. It is required that no more than 8 persons may be allowed at each game facility in places of public entertainment. Does it mean that more than 8 persons are not allowed in large scale facilities such as amusement rides and performance hall at one time?
  21. Can fitness and yoga centres organise classes in groups of more than 8 persons?
  22. What is the legal basis for the Regulation (Cap. 599F) and the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
  23. Are there other advice and more information?

  1. 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)] (including latest directions), Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirement and Directions) (Business and Premises) (Amendment) Regulation 2020 [the Amendment Regulation] and Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) [the Regulation (Cap. 599G)], and the latest directions (April 8 and April 21) under Regulation (Cap. 599F) and 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.
    The Government has relaxed some of the social distancing measures from May 8. The Government then extends the social distancing measures in relation to catering businesses, scheduled premises and group gatherings in public places, as well as make appropriate adjustments to these measures having regard to the latest situation.
    Since the situation in Hong Kong has stabilised in terms of the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the recent weeks, the Government will relax social distancing measures in accordance with the "suppress and lift" strategy.

  2. What are the directions of the Regulation (Cap. 599F)?
    The latest directions (summary at Annex) come into effect at 0.00am on May 29 for a period of seven days:
    1. allow bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or nightclubs and karaoke establishments to resume operation;
    2. allow karaoke activities carried on in catering premises, party rooms and club-houses provided that the applicable directions in respect of karaoke establishments are complied with;
    3. allow any part(s) of the club-house being used or operated as a party room to resume operation provided that the applicable directions in respect of party rooms are complied with; and
    4. maintain other measures regulating catering businesses and scheduled premises.

  3. 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.

  4. What is the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
    The prohibition of group gatherings with more than eight persons in public places under the Regulation (Cap. 599G) remains in force for 14 days until June 4.

  5. Are there exemptions under the Regulation (Cap. 599G)?
    The scope of existing exempted group gatherings is at Annex 1.
    In view of the need for worshippers to participate in religious activities raised by religious groups, the Government has expanded the scope of the existing types of exempted group gatherings under the Regulation (Cap. 599G). The relaxation of the restrictions in relation to group gatherings during religious activities is subject to appropriate infection control requirements imposed out of public health and infection control considerations. Details are as follows –
    • The religious activities must be held at premises constructed or regularly used as a place of worship (including a church, monastery or nunnery, mosque, synagogue or temple);
    • Food or drink is served (except as part of a religious ritual); and
    • Measures are in place for restricting the number of participants in the activity to not more than 50% of the number of persons that may normally be accommodated on the premises as a place of worship (for example if the premises could accommodate around 20 people, measure has to be taken to contain the participants to not more than ten people).
    The Regulation (Cap. 599G) for exempted group gatherings for religious activities (other than a wedding ceremony) takes effect from 22 May 2020.
    At the same time, the religious bodies have already implemented various pre-cautionary measure in accordance with the “Health Advice on Prevention of Coronavirus disease for Religious Assembly” published earlier by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, including wearing surgical mask during the religious gatherings, maintaining hand hygiene, arranging temperature check and keeping a social distance of at least 1 metre.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Will a group of more than eight 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.

  9. “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.

  10. “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.

  11. 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 8 people, and there must be a distance of 1.5 metres or more between different groups.

  12. 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.

  13. 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, in the case of a group gathering of more than 50 persons, measures are in place for separating them in different rooms or partitioned areas, each accommodating not more than 50 persons –
    1. 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;
    2. 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”

  14. What is the maximum number of persons that can attend a wedding ceremony? If the guests are seated with 8 persons per table, is it ok to arrange a wedding banquet in a restaurant? Does the celebrant count within the maximum number of persons?
    Under the scope of existing exempted group gatherings, the number of persons is increased from 20 to 50 for wedding ceremony at which no food or drink is served.
    Wedding banquet is not an exempted group gathering under Cap. 599G. Generally speaking, the nature of wedding banquet meets the definition of group gathering under the Regulation. If a wedding banquet is organized in a public place and that gathering is not exempted, it is still subject to the 8-person limit under Cap. 599G.
    The above-mentioned number of persons covers all attendees of the wedding ceremony/banquet, including the celebrant.

  15. When can religious groups resume their religious activities?
    The relaxation of the restrictions in relation to group gatherings during religious activities under the Regulation (Cap. 599G) takes effect from 22 May. Religious groups may decide on their own when to resume the religious activities according to their individual circumstances. The public should pay close attention to the latest information released by the religious groups.

  16. Could you give some examples of food or drink that serves as part of a religious ritual?
    The Catholic and the Christian groups consider Holy Communion as an integral, sacred and essential part of the religious ritual rather than the ordinary consumption of food and drinks.

  17. Does a family (for example parents and their children) joining the religious activities together need to keep a social distance of at least 1 metre apart?
    The “Health Advice on Prevention of Coronavirus disease for Religious Assembly” published earlier by the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health suggests the religious bodies to “space out seating for worshippers who do not live in the same household to at least 1 metre apart when possible”.

  18. If 8 consecutive occupied seats in a cinema have been arranged in a row, is it against the direction to arrange more seats in the same row when certain distance of 1-2 seats could be maintained?
    Under the latest direction, cinema that fall under the definition of place of public entertainment are allowed to resume operation subject to a range of conditions, including that seating must be arranged in a way that no more than 8 consecutive seats in the same row may be occupied.
    As the seating distribution of each cinema varies, as long as the above requirements are fulfilled, cinema operators may arrange the ticketing and seating arrangement depending on actual circumstances. We understand that cinema operators will set seating combinations in compliance with the direction to ensure social distancing among audience.

  19. Should partition be placed for multi-players game station/machine/facility in amusement game centre?
    If the stand-alone game stations, machines and facilities next to one another are concurrently in use, regardless of the nature of the game, there must be some form of partition which could serve as effective buffer.

  20. It is required that no more than 8 persons may be allowed at each game facility in places of public entertainment. Does it mean that more than 8 persons are not allowed in large scale facilities such as amusement rides and performance hall at one time?
    Game facilities are intended to cover small gather points where groups of 8 persons cannot maintain a reasonable distance of 1.5m among them. In accordance with the latest direction relation to scheduled premises issued by the Secretary for Food and Health on 19 May, in the case of a large-scale entertainment station, machine or facility, the number of persons to be allowed at any one time must not exceed 50% of the designed capacity of the entertainment station, machine or facility.

  21. Can fitness and yoga centres organise classes in groups of 8?
    In accordance with the latest direction relation to refinements of social distancing measures for scheduled premises issued by the Secretary for Food and Health on 19 May, the operating conditions for fitness centres have been refined. Each group training or class must consist of no more than eight persons including the coach; for a group training or class of more than 8 persons, it must be conducted in a way to ensure there is at least 1.5 metres between each person (except the coach) and the coach must wear a mask all the time if he is not staying at a fixed location not less than 1.5 metres from other persons.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.