Representatives of the bar and karaoke industries have joined calls from owners of beauty parlours and cinemas for the government to allow their businesses to reopen ahead of the Chinese New Year.
The government ordered karaokes and bars to close again in early December as another wave of coronavirus infections struck the territory.
Speaking at a press conference, representatives from the sectors said they can’t see how they will be able to survive if they aren’t allowed to reopen soon.
Leung Lap-yan, a bar operator, criticised the government for failing to offer any solutions that would allow bars to reopen safely.
He said the industry has complied with all the government’s infection control instructions and would be willing to take extra precautions if needed in order to be able to reopen.
Leung said bars could, for example, require their customers to use the government’s LeaveHomeSafe mobile app or ask them to fill in a health declaration form, so that any customer later found to be infected could be more easily traced.
Joan Law, a representative from the karaoke industry, said karaokes have now been forced to remain closed for more than 180 days since April last year.
She said the past year has been very difficult for karaoke owners, as they still need to pay rent, workers’ salaries and other expenses like copyright for songs.
Law said she believes with proper infection control measures in place, it wouldn’t be a problem for karaoke outlets to reopen.
She also said infectious disease expert Yuen Kwok-yung had inspected karaoke premises last year and concluded that the risk of Covid-19 spreading in such places is not high.
Catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung, meanwhile, said shutting down all bars and karaoke premises cannot really help contain the virus.
“People still go out, it’s just they don’t go to licensed premises. They go up to upstairs bars which don’t have a licence. They would go up to upstairs karaokes which don’t have a licence,” he said.
Cheung said instead of barring licensed businesses from operating, the government should step-up enforcement to tackle unlicensed businesses which often flout infection control rules.
Meanwhile, restaurant owners also urged the government to relax the current dining-in ban after 6pm and allow more people to be seated at a table, saying the Chinese New Year holiday is usually the period when they make most of their profits for the year.