The Latest: Hong Kong ease pandemic rules as cases decline

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FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2020 file photo, people wearing masks attend a vigil for Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, in Hong Kong. The outpouring of grief and rage sparked by Li's death was an unusual - and for the Chinese Communist Party, unsettling - display in China's tightly monitored civic space. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

HONG KONG — Hong Kong is reducing social distancing rules following a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases, including restarting indoor dining and reopening gyms.

The relaxation that took effect Thursday is a huge relief for the city’s service sector, which has been hammered by periodical closure orders and strict limits on dining out.

Under the new rules, indoor dining is permitted until 10 p.m. with no more than four people allowed at a table. Other outlets allowed to reopen include video arcades, fitness centers, beauty and massage parlors, amusement centers, karaoke bars and sports facilities. Staff at such facilities must undergo a coronavirus test every 14 days.

Public gatherings of more than two people remain prohibited and mask-wearing in public is mandatory until March 3.

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