July 22, 2020 / 6:29 AM / 24 days ago

Hong Kong mandates masks in all indoor public areas

People wearing face masks following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak walk at a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lam Yik

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong will expand strict new social distancing measures from midnight on Wednesday, mandating face masks in all indoor public areas including malls and markets, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said.

The Asian financial hub tightened social distancing measures in July after a spike of locally transmitted cases and as authorities warned about a third wave of infections.

“This is the most critical time for Hong Kong. We ask citizens to be patient and stay at home as much as possible,” Chan said.

A spike in recent cases was mostly due to people not wearing masks, she added. The new measures would be in place for two weeks.

The closure of 12 types of venues including gyms and entertainment centres would continue until July 28, as would a ban on dining in restaurants after 6 p.m.

Since late January over 2,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 14 of whom have died.

Reporting by Yanni Chow; writing by Farah Master; Editing by Stephen Coates

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