Hong Kong imposed its toughest social distancing measures yet. (pic: iStock)

Hong Kong imposed its toughest social distancing measures yet this year. (pic: iStock)

Hong Kong's wine market rebounded with vengeance in 2021 but with the city imposing the toughest Covid curbs yet, will 2022 reverse all gains?


The fifth wave Covid-19 infection in Hong Kong triggers the city's toughest social distancing measures with no dine-in allowed after 6pm (pic: iStock)
The fifth wave Covid-19 infection in Hong Kong triggers the city’s toughest social distancing measures with no dine-in allowed after 6pm (pic: iStock)

With the city now logging 7,000 daily cases, Hong Kong government showed no sign of abandoning its strict ‘Covid Zero policy’ and will attempt to achieve no other city has accomplished so far – quelling the infectious Omicron spread without months of lockdown.

In an usually blunt and rare directive, Chinese president Xi Jinping sternly instructed that local government “must mobilize all forces and resources that can be mobilized, take all necessary measures and protect Hong Kong people’s lives and health” and the “overriding mission” is to control Covid spread.  

The comments raised the likelihood that chief executive Carrie Lam’s administration is going to further tighten restrictions including citywide mass testing and mainland style lockdown if cases get out of hand.

The city’s business particularly hotels, restaurants and bars will bear the brunt of the city’s toughest social distancing measures yet. Since January 7, dinner dine-in has been banned and bars and nightclubs are ordered to close.

hong kong dining social distancing
Diners eating alone in Hong Kong (pic: Vino Joy News)

As a result, the worsening fifth wave infection that first started in late December has cost wine merchants crucial Christmas and New Year wine sales. It continued to disrupt Chinese New Year wine sales, and will now look set to wipe out sales till end of April at least.

“The latest wave definitely shook the entire wine market. We have never seen such a slump in the economy,” says Bojan Radulovic, Deputy General Manager of Hong Kong’s leading wine company Links Concept when interviewed by Vino Joy News.

“The forth wave left off-trade market still strong, but this time people are very afraid, and even off-trade market is facing difficulties,” he adds.

This will likely heighten some wine merchants’ cash liquidity and stock problems, and eventually push some smaller sized companies out of business.

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs that were once the city’s wine merchants’ steady cash stream is drying up, adding more pains to stockpiles and cash flow. A couple of merchants who talked to Vino Joy News complained that if a restaurant goes bust, debts including for wines will be forgiven. Dispute in court oftentimes doesn’t lead to payment either.

if a restaurant is closing, we have no chance to get the money. we can go the small cases court. we will win and nothing will happen

About 5,000 restaurants, or almost one third of Hong Kong’s eateries, are considering shutting down for months in order to cut costs, said Simon Wong, Ka-wo, President of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades.

He estimates more than 2,500 of the city’s 17,000 restaurants had closed over the past two years of the pandemic, and 1,500 more could shut for good next month.

Meanwhile, half of Hong Kong’s 2000 bars might fold business due to prolonged closure since January, says Allan Zeman, Chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, a major landlord and catering services operator.

No one is certain when the current wave will be brought under control but if measures continue for months, bankruptcies for many will be a certainty.

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