Hong Kong police and health authorities have reportedly raided on the city’s upscale Italian restaurant Carbone in Central last weekend after it was found to have violated the city’s strict Covid rules.
The raid was carried out on June 17 on a Friday night, one day after Hong Kong’s new restriction on nightlife revelers came into effect, which requires all patrons to bars, nightclubs and restaurants with bar areas to present a negative Covid test before entering.
One person on scene described the raid as “crazy” and said customers were made to sit in silence for 45 minutes.
The raid was confirmed by the Black Sheep Restaurants-owned Italian eatery on its Instagram, admitting “we had a bit of intense night”. “We think we were in compliance with the current regs and we are checking with our lawyers. Carbone will be for lunch only for the next 14 days and you can still get your Carbone dinner on Go,” it adds, since premises found to have violated Covid rules can be ordered to suspend dinner services for two weeks.
The restaurant says it plans to donate food prepared for the weekend to charity or other needed groups.
After seeing rising cases among bar clusters, Hong Kong government introduced a new rule last Thursday that requires all customers to present a photo of negative RAT result taken in the previous 24 hours before entry to licensed bars, nightclubs and restaurants with bar areas.
Carbone is among 165 bars and pubs inspected by Hong Kong authorities on Friday and Saturday following the new rule. At least 69 people were either fined or served, according to local media HK01.
The city’s already struggling catering businesses voiced theirs concerns on the new rule. Industry leaders estimated that business at bars and pubs at Hong Kong’s nightlife district has declined 60% since the implementation of a new Covid-19 testing requirement, according to SCMP.
Allan Zeman, Chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Association, said the new rule was an “overreaction.”
Hong Kong’s daily cases have been on the rise again, surpassing 1,000 for a week. Several Covid-19 clusters have been linked to bars in nightlife hotspots, with at least six premises reporting about 350 infections, according to SCMP.
“I can tell you if it goes on longer than two weeks, many [businesses] won’t survive. I’ve seen it happen last night. A lot of people are not going out. A lot of people are staying home,” Zeman said, adding that he estimated 20% of bars could be forced to shut down because of the rapid test requirement.