Class IV restrictions

In relation to the latest group gathering restrictions, the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association has verified the following from the Food & Health Bureau and Marine Police :

1   Privately-owned Class IV vessels are classified as ‘private spaces’. As they are not ‘public spaces’, the group gathering regulation (Cap. 599G) does not apply

2   Class IV Charter Boats that are hired for social gatherings are classified as ‘Party Rooms’ and, therefore, under Cap. 599F Schedule 2, are required to be suspended till 28th July 2020

In light of the above, the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association is aware of the over-riding importance of public hygiene and health issues over gatherings on private boats. Given that these gatherings may not be considered critical or of imminent purpose, we stress that the restriction imposed by the Regulation should be adhered to and that further statements/notices should reflect the same. Please note that this does not constitute legal advice.

Please find the written statements below from the Food & Health Bureau and Marine Police:

1   Privately-owned Class IV vessels are classified as ‘private spaces’. As they are not ‘public spaces’, the group gathering regulation (Cap. 599G) does not apply.

Food & Health Bureau

‘The epidemic situation of COVID-19 in Hong Kong has undergone drastic changes recently. The Government has gazetted directions under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) on 13th July 2020 to further tighten social distancing measures. Amongst them, the number of persons allowed in group gatherings in public places will be tightened from 50 to four, with effective from 15 July 2020. Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings at public places will continue during the 14-day period till 28th July 2020 (https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202007/14/P2020071400010.htm)

According to Cap. 599G (https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599G), a public place is referred to a place where members of the public can get access to from time to time. If a venue allows access by members of the pubic from time to time, such venue would fall under the definition of public places. Hence, the requirements regarding group gatherings of not more than four people and a distance of 1.5 metres or more between different groups etc. under Cap. 599G will be applicable.

The Government strongly urges the public to stay at home as much as possible, go out less often unless necessary, and avoid dining out and unnecessary social activities (including private gatherings), to fight the epidemic together and prevent the virus from continuing to spread in the community. The Government will continue to closely monitor the development of the epidemic situation and review the various measures in place from time to time with a view to making suitable adjustments taking into account all relevant factors. For further information and latest updates, please read and regularly visit the COVID-19 thematic website (https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/index.html).’

Q&A between HKBIA and Marine Police

HKBIA : With regards to the 'official number of people allowed on board a pleasure vessel', is it limited to 4 persons?

Marine Police : For social gatherings under the regulations, it applies to a public place only, not a private place.

HKBIA : If there are 6 persons in a family house are they allowed to be on board together?

Marine Police : That boat is deemed to be a private place when she is privately owned, but the issue of dwelling is regulated by the Marine Department. If on board a hired boat, the owner/controller/operator of the boat may commit an offence under section 9 of Cap.599 F.

HKBIA : Is there no limit?

Marine Police : No limit for private place but in view of the current pandemic, common sense prevails and members of the public are expected to display social responsibility by refraining from having social gatherings.

HKBIA : We were under the impression that pleasure vessels that are not licensed for hire or reward, can only take four people, while ferries have no limit.

Marine Police : Under the situations you have mentioned, the Cap.599 regulations apply only to 'public places'. A vessel used for hire or reward may come under the definition of a public place (if so, there are then also exemptions for 'transportation' – ferries, etc). Despite no restrictions being placed on 'private places' the public are encouraged to be prudent and follow all Department of Health guidelines in terms of social distancing and public gatherings.

Relevant official source, please see the link **schedule 1 : Exempted Group Gatherings (in public place)

Item 1 : Group gathering for the purposes of or related to transportation

Item 6 : Group gathering of persons living in the same household

https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599G (and 599F)

Centre for Health Protection and Department of Health links are attached below :

https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/index.html 

https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/index.html

2   Class IV Charter Boats that are hired for social gatherings are classified as ‘Party Rooms’ and, therefore, under Cap. 599F Schedule 2, are required to be suspended till 28 July 2020

Food & Health Bureau

‘According to Cap. 599G (https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599G), a public place is referred to a place where members of the public can get access to from time to time. If a venue allows access by members of the pubic from time to time, such venue would fall under the definition of public places. Hence, the requirements regarding group gatherings of not more than 4 people and a distance of 1.5 metres or more between different groups etc. under Cap. 599G will be applicable. 

Group gathering generally means a group of people who gather for a common purpose. However, whether a case is defined as a group gathering depends on its nature, such as whether the gathering is organised beforehand, whether there is any interaction between the participants, and whether the gathering only lasts for a very short period of time.’

According to the latest directions on scheduled premises under Cap. 599F (https://www.elegislation.gov.hk/hk/cap599F), if relevant premises (such as junk boat) falls under Cap. 599F Schedule 2's stipulation of premises that are maintained or intended to be maintained for hire for holding social gatherings (such as boat party), such premises are required to suspend operation till 28th July 2020.’

 
   
 
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