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Once a coronavirus success story, Hong Kong is facing its worst outbreak yet, and policymakers are realizing how little they can do without making a bad situation worse.

New infections have broken records on nine of the last 20 days. But unlike other global cities, Hong Kong has been reluctant to impose stay-at-home restrictions or close nonessential businesses. Instead, the rules have gotten incrementally tighter, changing by the week. Public gatherings were limited to four people, then two. Dining-in was banned for dinner, then lunch. Masks were required on public transport, then all indoor public spaces, now everywhere outdoors as well.

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