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Jan retail sales up 0.9%

The value of total retail sales in January, provisionally estimated at $36.5 billion, rose 0.9% compared with the same month in 2023, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate represents a 1.2% year-on-year decrease.   Of the total retail sales value in January, online sales accounted for 6.5%. Provisionally estimated at $2.4 billion, the value of this segment went down by 20.9% compared with a year earlier.   Noting that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year, the department said the year-on-year comparison of the figures might have been affected to a certain extent.   The value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased 25.2% compared with January 2023.   Increases were also recorded in the sales of other consumer goods not elsewhere classified (up 7

Social distancing to be eased

(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)   Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan today said some of the social distancing measures for catering businesses and scheduled premises can be gradually relaxed due to the current COVID-19 epidemic situation.   Prof Chan made the announcement at a media session this afternoon, saying that some of the previously closed premises can reopen and dine-in services at restaurants will be extended to 10pm from February 18.   “While we are looking at the number of cases every day and the entire situation, we felt that this is the time that we are able to gradually relax some, not all, but some of the restrictions on scheduled premises and also the catering businesses’ dine-in service in the evening.”   She pointed out that Hong Kong has seen a decline in the number of confirmed cases, with infections remaining at low double-digit figures and unlinked cases at single digits. While the COVID-19 instantaneous effective reproductive number published by the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health dropped to about 0.6 and the sewage study also showed negative results in various districts.    Prof Chan noted that catering businesses and scheduled premises will have to comply with two additional requirements under the law.   “The first is to have all the staff tested every 14 days. This is actually similar to our targeted group testing, but this time it is required by law that we require the restaurant owners or managers to be responsible for ensuring their staff in the restaurants or these premises are tested every 14 days.   “The second is to use the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app so that it is easier for people to keep a record of the places they went to - it is like a diary - and if there are confirmed cases in the premises that they went to, then they would be informed so that they would take care of their own health situation.”
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