Hong Kong Bans Gatherings Of More Than 2 People After COVID Cases Rise

A woman wearing a face mask takes a Star Ferry in Victoria Harbour from Kowloon side to Hong Kong Is...

Hong Kong unveils its toughest coronavirus restrictions yet, including a ban on gatherings of two or more

Hong Kong made headlines on Monday for announcing its latest round of restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of Covid-19 — and, we’ve gotta say, they make America’s response to the surging pandemic seem a bit… underwhelming. Among the new rules? No public gatherings of more than two people and a hefty fine for those who don’t abide by any of the health-centered guidelines.

In addition to banning gatherings of more than two people, Hong Kong will also prohibit dining in restaurants. Citizens must wear a mask outside, even while exercising. Those who tempt fate by eschewing the restrictions could be slapped with a fine of up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars ($645 USD).

“The pandemic situation in the city continues to be severe, and confirmed cases in the past week continue to surge rapidly,” Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said at a press conference. “We have many untraceable cases, and it’s difficult to eliminate the hidden transmission chain in a short period of time.”

Previous rounds of rule-tightening in Hong Kong made mask-wearing mandatory indoors and closed down other public establishments such as gyms, bars, and more close-contact public venues. At the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, the city was able to avoid such strict protocols because the population quickly embraced social distancing resources like face masks and hand sanitizer.

But even after all but eliminating Covid-19 cases, Hong Kong is seeing another wave. The drastic measures Hong Kong is currently taking come after recording more than 100 Covid-19 cases for five days in a row. All of which makes you wonder: Should the U.S. be taking notes?

For context, the population of Hong Kong is 7.451 million. The population of Jacksonville, Florida is just over 900,000 (Florida surpassed New York over the weekend to become the U.S. state with the second-highest coronavirus count).

Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, has a current coronavirus case count of 19,791 with 143 deaths. In the last five days, Duval County has seen new cases fluctuate from a low of 240 to a high of 500. People continue to flock to the beaches, restaurants, and more. Schools face a mandatory reopening. One out of every 52 Floridians has been infected by the virus, per the Washington Post.

Hong Kong is in what local medical authorities have dubbed its “third wave.” Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci — Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — said that the U.S. was “still knee-deep in the first wave.”