Bar owners and operators in Hong Kong are dismayed after months of closure that it will have to wait until at least May for reopening, as industry leaders complain that the city’s thousands of bars only operated for 6 days so far this year.
As Hong Kong lays out roadmaps to gradually ease social distancing restrictions starting from April 21, Hong Kong’s bars and pubs have to remain closed as industry leaders warn mass losses of jobs and closures with little government support .
The city’s bars and pubs have been ordered to close since January 7 amid the city’s worsening Covid outbreak. But as the city announces a three-phase roadmap out of the fifth wave starting, the city’s bars and pubs are left out, prompting protest and anger among owners.
One of the prominent criticism came from Hong Kong Bar and Club Association Chairman Chin Chun-wing. Chin complained differentiated treatment between bars and restaurants. The latter despite the current dine-in ban are allowed to operate, and resume dinner services starting from April 21.
Rental alone, according to him, already caused a huge financial burden to bar owners. For bars less than 1000 square feet, he said the average rental would be around 100,000 a month, and HKD 500,000 for bigger-sized establishments.
Most staff working in bars, pubs and nightclubs are taking unpaid leaves, and more than half as he estimated have resigned or switched to other industries.
Hong Kong has about 1,400 licensed bars, and roughly 200 have permanently closed before Chinese New Year this year.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced this week that said social distancing measures will be gradually eased in three phases within three months starting from April 21, provided the number of infections did not rebound and continued to show a downward trend.
In phase one, fitness centers and beauty parlours, museums, performance venues and libraries under the Leisure & Cultural Services Department will reopen. Dine-in services at catering businesses from 6pm to 10pm will be resumed, with the maximum number of people per table increased to four.
Bars and pubs, party rooms and karaoke establishments will only be allowed to reopen in phase two.