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Travel & Leisure

Hong Kong Disneyland reopens as anti-virus measures loosen

A child interacts with the actors dressed as the Disney cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse while maintaining social distance between them during the reopening of the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort on Feb.19.   © AP

HONG KONG (Kyodo) -- Hong Kong Disneyland reopened Friday with the territory's government lifting some social distancing measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus as the pandemic eases.

It is the third reopening for the popular theme park following previous closures in January, July and December last year lasting a total of about nine months due to the pandemic. It last closed on Dec. 2.

Local media Cable TV reported that about 100 people lined up at the gates before it opened, among them a teenager who said he was so excited he could not sleep the previous night.

"Every time Disneyland reopens is to be cherished," Yim said, donning an Olaf facemask, a snowman character in the "Frozen" animated film. "Or you would lose the chance to play when it closes."

Only guests with reservations are admitted, the park said. It closes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The closures came after the park saw a declining number of visitors as Hong Kong was embroiled in months-long anti-government protests. Fullyear attendance through September 2019 dropped 4% from a year earlier to 6.5 million visitors, according to company figures.

Social distancing measures were relaxed in Hong Kong starting Thursday as new infections dwindled in recent weeks to low double-digit numbers.

Most public venues are allowed to open while being limited to half capacity and having to observe preventive measures, including temperature checks and face masks.

Under the new rules, visitors to the theme park, restaurants and most public venues are required to leave visiting records for contact tracing should an outbreak happen. Employees have to get tested for COVID-19 every fortnight.

The government has authorized the emergency use of the CoronaVac vaccine made by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with the first batch of 1 million doses of CoronaVac arriving late Friday and the latter ones expected to arrive by the end of month. Mass inoculation is scheduled to start next week.

Thirteen infection cases were reported Friday, taking the total to 10,833, with 197 deaths, government figures show.

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