The roller coaster in Ocean Park. Photo: Ocean Park

Hong Kong is to reopen its two major theme parks soon and schedule its annual book fair for next month after the city’s Covid-19 situation improved over the weekend.

Although social distancing will still be in place until June 18, Ocean Park will reopen on Saturday, Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, said Monday.

The park will implement public hygiene measures such as compulsory masks for all guests, a cap on visitor numbers and visitors will have to book in advance, Yau said.

There will be no problem as long as visitor numbers do not exceed 50% of the park’s capacity, Yau said, citing advice from health officials.

Hong Kong Disneyland will also reopen soon, but no date has been set. Conventions and trade shows will also resume in July, with the Hong Kong Book Fair expected to be held from July 15 to 21.

“Whether it’s theme parks and book fairs, as long as they comply with public health measures then they can re-open,” Yau said.

Both theme parks have been closed since January 26.

In the first quarter of 2020, Hong Kong’s real GDP dropped by 8.9% from a year earlier. The recession was the steepest for a single quarter on record. Domestic demand also weakened markedly, reflecting the serious disruptions caused by the threat of Covid-19 and subdued business sentiment.

The labour market showed further sharp deterioration as the pandemic weighed on a wide range of economic activities. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate soared by one percentage point to 5.2% in February – April 2020, the highest in more than a decade.

Last week, the Hong Kong government extended its 14-day home quarantine requirements for people arriving from the mainland, Macau and Taiwan. These were to expire on June 7. It said it was considering exempting people coming from Guangdong province and Macau from the requirements.

A total of 10 locally infected patients, including a 34-year-old female “super spreader,” were identified between May 30 and June 4. Last Thursday, a 72-year-old man was found to be infected and became the seventh patient identified in Luk Chuen House at Lek Yuen Estate in Sha Tin in the New Territories.

The case resulted in a partial evacuation in Luk Chuen House. The Centre for Health Protection tested 1,382 deep throat saliva samples from the residents of Luk Chuen House but found no positive result. Health officials and architects failed to prove that the coronavirus was transmitted through the sewage pipelines in the building.

Yuen Kwok-yung, chair of the infectious diseases section at the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Microbiology, said kitchen exhaust fans could have transmitted the virus among flats in Luk Chuen House. Yuen said the virus could have leaked from the flat of the “super spreader” through the kitchen exhaust fans to other flats by wind.

Between Saturday and Monday, five imported cases were recorded in Hong Kong.

On Saturday, a 47-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl were found to be infected after they came to Hong Kong the previous Thursday from Pakistan. Both developed a fever and were being isolated in Tuen Mun Hospital. A 26-year-old woman who came to Hong Kong last Friday from the United Kingdom also tested positive.

On Sunday, a 25-year-old woman, who lived in the Philippines and arrived in Hong Kong from Manila on flight CX906 on Saturday, was identified as the number 1,107 patient in the city. She remained asymptomatic and was staying in Princess Margaret Hospital. The Centre for Health Protection declined to disclose whether the woman came to work in Hong Kong.

Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, managing director of the Technic Employment Service Centre, told Ta Kung Pao that her company recruited fewer than 10 Filipino domestic workers last month, compared with more than 100 per month in the past. Liu said although Manila had recently loosened its lockdown measures, the newly hired domestic worker could not get a health certificate as laboratories remained closed.

Hong Kong’s Ocean Park and Disneyland have been closed since January 26. Photo: Ocean Park

Cheung Kit-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association, said the Philippine government’s Department of Labor and Employment had resumed its operations from this month but still had a limited capability to handle working visa applications. Cheung said currently the number of domestic workers who depart for Hong Kong is only about 20% to 30% of the normal level.

He added that some Hong Kong employers, who have failed to hire domestic workers from the Philippines over the past five months, are hiring those who are in Hong Kong.

On Monday, a 34-year-old woman who visited Pakistan between March and May became the city ’s No 1,108 patient.