Authorities in Hong Kong will close game centers and swimming pools from Wednesday, while also ordering civil servants to stay at home after a new spike in coronavirus cases.

The city recorded 76 new Covid-19 cases for the day, including nine untraceable local cases, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam saying “the figure on Monday was slightly lower.” However, she added: “I don’t want the public to mistakenly reckon that the peak of the epidemic is over already.”

The city will roll out new restrictions on Wednesday, to be in force for at least two weeks, ordering most of the 177,700 civil servants to work from home, apart from those providing emergency and essential on-site services.

Authorities are closing game centers, theme parks, karaoke lounges and swimming pools. Government performance venues will work only for online streaming performances, while gyms, sports venues and beauty parlors will be allowed to operate with additional restrictions.

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People walk across a street at Mong Kok, as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues, in Hong Kong, China, November 10, 2020. © Reuters / Lam Yik
Hong Kong sees ‘worsening’ situation as 73 coronavirus cases emerge, many linked to dance clubs

Groups utilizing sports facilities will be limited to two people, and the number of patrons permitted at each table at restaurants will be reduced from four to two. Restaurants will also be required to close at 10pm. Bars and dance clubs were already shut last week.

Tougher penalties are being imposed for the violations of anti-epidemic measures, including the limit on gatherings, mask-wearing in public places and mandatory testing. “Law enforcement must achieve a preventive effect,” Lam said. “The fixed penalty now is HK$2,000 [US$258], we need to raise this, hopefully by multiple times over.”

The latest resurgence of coronavirus cases in the city of 7.4 million was “very severe,” Lam said. The 76 new cases on Monday brought the total to more than 6,300, with 109 deaths. The nearly four-month high of 115 new infections was registered on Sunday.

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