Rules return in Hong Kong, India, ease in China

HONG KONG (AP) — Renewed restrictions took effect in Hong Kong yesterday, with restaurants limited to takeout after 6pm, as the Asian financial centre battles a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Mask-wearing has been made compulsory on public transport for the first time, with fines of up to USD650. Public gatherings are once again restricted to four people, after the limit was eased last month to allow up to 50.

Hong Kong has seen a return of locally transmitted cases in the past 10 days after a long spell without them. About 300 new cases have been reported since July 6, including more than 220 non-imported ones. The city reversed plans to allow major public events, postponing a highly popular annual book fair slated to open yesterday. Hong Kong Disneyland, which re-opened last month, shuttered again in accordance with the renewed restrictions.

Gyms and beauty salons have been ordered closed, and eateries are not allowed to offer dine-in services from 6pm to 5am. Schools had already been reclosed from Monday.

The city of 7.5 million people recorded 1,569 confirmed cases and eight deaths since the outbreak began.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

China is further easing restrictions on domestic tourism after reporting no new local cases of COVID-19 in nine days. A directive from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism dated Tuesday said tourist sites could allow 50 per cent of their daily visitor capacity, up from 30 per cent, and that interprovince group tours can resume.

Visitors wearing face masks take a walk at a park in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: AP

The National Health Commission said six new cases were recorded on Tuesday, all in people who arrived from overseas. It has not reported any domestic cases since an outbreak in Beijing that infected more than 330 people before it faded early this month. China reported 83,611 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths since the outbreak began. It does not include people who test positive but show no symptoms in its case count.

India’s coronavirus cases surged by 29,429, and authorities are reimposing lockdowns in high-risk areas. The new cases took the national total to 936,181. The Health Ministry reported another 582 deaths, taking total fatalities up to 24,309. A two-week lockdown was imposed yesterday in eastern Bihar state and its population of nearly 128 million.

Nearly 2.5 million poor migrant workers returned to the state after losing jobs in other parts of the country. India’s key southern technology hub, Bangalore, was also put under a weeklong lockdown yesterday. About a dozen states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, have put high-risk areas under lockdowns, only allowing essential food supplies and health services.

South Korea reported 39 new cases of the coronavirus, most of them tied to international arrivals as the virus continues to spread in Asia, the United States and elsewhere. The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) yesterday brought national totals to 13,551 cases, including 289 deaths. The KCDC said at least 28 of the new cases were linked to arrivals from abroad, but it didn’t immediately disclose where they were from. South Korea requires two-week quarantines on all passengers arriving from overseas. Foreign nationals arriving from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan beginning this week must provide health certificates proving they had tested negative for COVID-19 amid widening outbreaks in Southern and Central Asia.