HK bar industry unhappy over latest closure order

As Hong Kong confirmed 80 new infections on 24 November, the government has announced the closure of all entertainment premises, including bars and nightclubs from Thursday this week.

Said to be the ‘fourth wave’ of the pandemic in Hong Kong, the source of the outbreak on 19 November was traced to a social dance club. By 24 November related cases had grown to 187.

In order to curb the spread of the pandemic, starting from midnight on 26 November, the government will tighten social gathering rules by shutting all bars or pubs, bath-houses, clubs and nightclubs, and to limit banquet sizes from 100 to 40 participants, in effect for 7 days. Restaurants are still allowed to open under the restriction of no more than four persons per table in catering premises, with the number of customers not exceeding 50% of the seating capacity

Chin Chun-wing, vice president of Hong Kong Bar & Club Association, told RTHK that it thinks it’s unreasonable and unfair for the government to put a ban on their operation. “Our industry has been complying with the government’s regulations at all times, and speaking of the current outbreak, there are none of the cases related to bars, not to mention the government did not consult with us before the announcement made. I think it reflects the bias that the government had over our industry.”

Starting from the beginning of the year, local bars were closed for 101 days. As the government will not issue any more relief measures for the catering business after the third round of anti-epidemic funding, the industry was also worried if it could afford the detrimental hit of another ban on operations.

Earlier in the month, 300 local bars joined the government’s tracking scheme named ‘LeaveHomeSafe’. It is a COVID-19 exposure notification mobile app that aims to encourage the public to keep a more precise record of their whereabouts and protect Hong Kong together. The government announced on 24 November that in order to effectively reduce the spread of the virus, restaurants need to register for the ‘LeaveHomeSafe’ app compulsorily on or before 3 December 2020 and showcase the QR code in the venue. However, it is voluntary for customers to scan the code and check-in on the app before entering the premises.

Also, due to the current surge of confirmed cases in Hong Kong, the travel bubble between the city and Singapore, initially planned to roll out in the next month, is now suspended.

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