LEFT OUT IN REOPEN PLAN, HK BAR TRADE SAID GOV'T DISCRIMINATING
By Susan Lewis
Credit: Nic Low/Unsplash
Hong Kong’s bar trade has criticised the government of being double standard in its COVID restrictions, with the industry being left out in the latest easing of social distancing measures.
From next Thursday (21 April), Hong Kong restaurants can resume dinner service until 10pm, with a maximum of 4 people per table.
Other businesses such as beauty parlours, gyms, theme parks, cinemas and local tours will also be allowed to resume, although capacity will be limited to 50 percent.
Restrictions will be further relaxed in September when restaurants will be allowed to provide dine-in service until 12am, and the number of customers per table will be increased to 8.
But to the dismay of the bar trade, so far there has been no words about when bars and pubs will be allowed to reopen.
Ben Leung Lap-yan, charter president of the Licensed Bar and Club Association of Hong Kong, slammed the government’s decision not to allow bars and pubs to reopen as discrimination.
Leung accused the government of being unfair to his industry as bars in Hong Kong have always been the first to close and the last to reopen under different social-distancing phases.
He said he did not see much of a difference in the business operation between the city’s bars and restaurants, with many restaurants with a liquor license also serving alcohol to customers.
Introduced on 5 January when Hong Kong’s COVID-19 cases started to surge rapidly due to the Omicron variant, the current rules only allowed restaurants to serve until 6 pm with a maximum of 2 people per table. While beauty parlours, gyms, theme parks, cinemas, bars and pubs all have to shut their doors.
Up until this year, Hong Kong had been very successful at controlling the coronavirus, but the latest wave caused by the Omicron variant has swamped the city causing more than 8,600 deaths.
The city reported 1,260 cases yesterday, down more than 95 percent from the peak of the outbreak in March, when over 30,000 daily infections were reported.
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