The “third wave” of the novel coronavirus has hit Hong Kong, with the city recording 41 local cases yesterday. A significant proportion have been traced back to restaurants as the transmission link.

Following a period of loosened restrictions on the F&B sector last month, the government announced drastic measures to tighten restrictions in hopes of curbing the spike in cases, due to take effect at midnight on Wednesday, July 15. The restrictions will last for seven days.

What new restrictions are there on the F&B sector?

  • No restaurant dine-in service from 6pm–5am
  • Closure of bars and 12 other types of premises
  • Maximum 4 people allowed per table
  • Maximum 50% seating capacity at restaurants

Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades, commented that the F&B sector would likely suffer a bigger blow than it did back in March, when Hong Kong was undergoing the “second wave” of COVID-19 cases. He also mentioned that the switch from dine-in to takeaway business after 6pm is likely unhelpful to the overall loss suffered by the industry, as takeaway orders can only recover 30% at most of a restaurant’s business.

However, Wong conceded that it is difficult to gauge whether these new measures are too hard on the sector; it is indeed worrying that many of the cases in the current wave are linked to restaurants in various districts. He hopes that the government will strike a balance between helping the sector and curbing the pandemic, stating, “Restaurants may not have closed down because of the subsidy the government provided awhile back, but this wave of coronavirus is fierce; restaurants may dismiss their employees.”

Our thoughts are with Hong Kong’s resilient F&B industry at this time. Stay safe, everyone.

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