HONG KONG'S BARS AND CLUBS CLOSED WHILE RESTAURANTS LIMIT HOURS AMID OMICRON SCARE
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Kirk Lai/Unsplash
Hong Kong’s bars and clubs have to close while restaurants and caterers can only serve until 6pm for at least two weeks from today, as the government tighten restrictive measures to fight the latest wave of COVID infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The city’s hospitality industry estimated that the sector could lose up to HKD6 billion (USD770 million) worth of business in the next two weeks.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s last holdouts still sticking to a zero COVID policy by deploying draconian and costly quarantine measures which literally isolate Hong Kong from the world.
The city enjoyed a streak of three months without community cases, but that ended on 31 December when authorities detected one local transmission of the Omicron variant – and numbers have been ticking up since then – prompting authorities to reinstate a raft of restrictions on daily life.
Starting from today, 15 types of venues, including bars, clubs, gyms and beauty parlours have to close for at least two weeks.
Restaurants can stay open for service until 6 pm and are only allowed to offer takeaway after that.
Tommy Cheung, a legislator representing the restaurant and catering industry, estimated that businesses will lose up to HKD6 billion (USD770 million) in the next two weeks.
He added that the Chinese New Year will fall on 1 February this year, if restrictions are extended into the holiday period, when restaurants and caterers are usually most busy, their losses would be much bigger and some restaurants might have to close for good.
“If they can’t see light at the end of the tunnel, restaurants will close,” Cheung told Reuters News Agency.
Ben Leung, president of the Hong Kong Licensed Bar and Club Association, which represents about half of the city’s 1,400 or so bars, clubs and karaoke venues, estimated losses of about HKD400 million in the next two weeks.
While he does not foresee closures, unless the restrictions last much longer, he said some of the 20,000 full time jobs in the industry may be at risk.
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