The move was part of a wave of new measures announced on Monday evening by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in response to a new surge in COVID-19 cases.
New social distancing measures will halt restaurant dining from 6 p.m. till 5 a.m. every day, and make mask-wearing mandatory on public transport at all times.
The maximum size of group gatherings, which had been expanded to 50 people in recent weeks, will be reduced back down to just four people.
After weeks without any cases of local transmission of the coronavirus, recent days have seen numbers climb again. The epidemic is presumed to have been restarted by imported cases that went undetected. Now they have taken root again in the community. (A second wave occurred in mid-March almost entirely due to imported cases and repatriation flights.)
On Monday, health authorities reported 52 new cases and one death. Of the 52, 11 were new imported cases. The other 41 included 21 linked to known local clusters and 20 where the source of infection has so far been unidentified. Including the Monday cases, Hong Kong has recorded 1,522 cases of infection and eight deaths.
Cinemas in Hong Kong were previously closed for a period of six weeks between the end of March and early May. The Hong Kong premiere of Korean zombie action film “Peninsula,” expected to have been one of the biggest films of the summer, was due to have been held on Wednesday, but is now canceled.
The new measures also mean the closure of public libraries, major performance venues, and indoors sports facilities.
It has been reported locally that Hong Kong Disneyland, which re-opened only last month (June 18) after closure since January, will have to shut its doors again, initially for a period of seven days. While that measure appears to be implied by the group size limits, there has been no confirmation of this on government websites, nor on the the park’s website or social media accounts.
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong Trade Development Council took the decision to cancel the Hong Kong Book Fair, which was due to have begun on Wednesday. This is one of the city’s biggest cultural events, and in a normal year attracts over a million visitors.