Containment measures are back in force in Hong Kong

As the fifth wave of Covid hits Hong Kong due to the spread of Omicron, social distancing measures have again been tightened in the city. Premises, including pubs, bars and nightclubs, are forced to close again.

After almost three months of zero local cases, the first untraceable local case of Covid-19 was reported on January 4, 2022 and it quickly formed chains of transmission in Hong Kong.

In response to the situation, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that from January 7, 2022, food services are prohibited from 6:00 p.m. until 4:59 a.m. the following day. Guests per table are capped at two people in type B premises, four people in type C and six people in type D.

Specified premises, including pubs, bars, nightclubs, fitness centers, theme parks, museums, party venues, performance halls and cinemas, must comply with the forced closure.

The measures remain in effect for 14 days and will be reviewed after that point.

Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, a lawyer representing 16,000 members of the restaurant industry, said the ban is expected to result in a loss of business of at least HK$4 billion as it comes into effect in the approach of the Chinese New Year.

Many festive gatherings have already been canceled in restaurants due to the ban. Normally, the annual celebration is a peak season for the restaurant industry, bringing in tens of billions in business.

Under the influence of the ban, gourmet bars and restaurants are heavily impacted. To cope with the new regulations, most bars that also hold a restaurant license will remain open from noon until 6 p.m.; while most fine-dining establishments have adjusted their opening times by opening the lunch session and “early dinner” from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Cheung calls for government measures to be relaxed to provide subsidies to restaurants and landlords, and for any plans to increase restaurant rents to be suspended.

Arrivals from eight countries, namely Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, Philippines, United Kingdom and United States, including via transit, have been banned in Hong Kong for two weeks to prevent the rampant spread of the virus.

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