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1.8% inflation in October

Overall consumer prices rose 1.8% in October year-on-year, smaller than the 4.4% increase in September, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   Netting out the effects of the Government's one-off relief measures, the underlying inflation rate was 1.7%, slightly less than September's 1.8%.   Compared with October last year, price increases were recorded for electricity, gas and water; clothing and footwear; meals out and takeaway food; basic food; alcoholic drinks and tobacco; transport; miscellaneous services, miscellaneous goods and housing.   On the other hand, a year-on-year decrease in price was recorded for durable goods.    The Government said that underlying consumer price inflation remained moderate in October.   The year-on-year increase in food prices showed some moderation, though remained relatively fast. Prices of clothing and footwear continued to record a visible increase, while those of energy-related items rose sharply. Price pressur

Social distancing measures extended

The Government today announced the social distancing measures currently in place will be maintained until March 17.   The Food & Health Bureau said the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong remains volatile since the gradual and orderly relaxation of social distancing measures on February 18.   It pointed out that a number of confirmed cases were found in certain districts over a short period of time, showing that silent transmission in the community is still active.   Taking into account the latest public health risk assessment, the Government will maintain all requirements and restrictions applicable to catering businesses and scheduled premises.   Given the recent cluster in eateries, the Government will require catering business premises to dedicate staff for clearing used utensils and cleaning and disinfecting used tables and partitions to reduce the relevant infection risk.   If this arrangement is not practicable, staff carrying out the aforementioned duties must adopt hand hygiene measures before switching to perform other duties and as necessary during each round of cleaning duties.   Such measures include using alcohol-based hand sanitisers, washing hands or changing gloves.   Bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises and swimming pools will remain closed.   Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings of more than four people in public places will continue.   The requirement for wearing a mask at all times when on public transport and in public places will also remain in effect.   The bureau explained that the existing arrangement for regular COVID-19 testing of staff of catering businesses and scheduled premises will continue to help break the silent transmission chain in the community promptly.   It noted that more than 30,000 quotas are available at community testing centres daily, and the booking rate for the coming seven days is only about 27%.   Employees of the construction sector and staff of catering businesses and scheduled premises can receive free testing with online booking.   The directions and specifications under three relevant regulations have been gazetted.
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