HK bar industry agrees to government proposal in exchange for reopening

The Hong Kong bar industry has agreed to accept the proposal from the government to ask patrons to keep their masks on and use a straw to drink alcohol if it will mean venues can reopen. 

The Hong Kong bar industry is now in its fifth month of forced closure. As the confirmed case number has remained relatively stable recently, industry representatives held a press conference on 28 March, stating they are willing to follow the guidelines as given by the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, in exchange for business reopening.

The proposals, as advised by the government, include making guests keep their masks on and drink through straws as well as requiring venues to install better ventilation systems.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Bar & Club Association, Chin Chun-wing, said the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department inspected the venues and felt that the existing anti-epidemic measures were not enough.

The request of keeping customers’ masks on at all times and using straws to consume alcohol aims to ensure the prevention of the spread of the virus. The concern raised by Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is focusing mainly on bars, and premises in licensed restaurant are allowed to operate as normal.

Three months ago when the government proposed the same idea, it was strongly opposed by the industry; however as the forced closure for bars has now been in place for so long, the industry has agreed to the new conditions in order to reopen businesses.

Chin said the industry has been struggling as bars are not allowed to open and at the same time there is no sign of further financial support from the government. 300 bars have permanently closed down already within the period, and some bars owe rent and can hardly make ends meet.

Although the government has not come up with a timetable for when bars can reopen, the association believes a detailed announcement will be made shortly as soon as the epidemic stabilises.

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