Coronavirus HK: stricter social-distancing measures, flight bans on 8 countries to be extended through Lunar New Year, sources say

15-Jan-2022 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s ban on evening dine-in services will be extended for two more weeks, through the Lunar New Year holiday, according to a government source.

A second source, meanwhile, said that a flight ban currently imposed on Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain and the United States would also be extended until February 4. The ban was first introduced on January 8.

A ban on dine-in services after 6pm has been extended through the Lunar New Year holiday. Photo: Jelly Tse

A ban on dine-in services after 6pm has been extended through the Lunar New Year holiday. Photo: Jelly Tse

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is expected to announce the extension of the evening dine-in ban and other coronavirus-related social-distancing measures at a press conference on Friday evening, while also fleshing out the details of a fifth round of pandemic relief funding.

Lam previously said the relief funding for affected businesses would total some HK$4 billion (US$513 million).

The extension would put a damper on Hongkongers’ traditional festive dinners out, requiring them to instead celebrate at home until at least the fourth day of Lunar New Year one day after the public holiday ends. Large-scale events, such as the Lunar New Year Fair, would also be affected.

Stricter social-distancing measures, initially meant to last two weeks, were reimposed on January 5 in the wake of the emergence of an ongoing fifth wave of coronavirus infections.

Fifteen types of venues, including bars, gyms, theme parks and beauty parlours, were forced to close, while restaurants were forbidden from offering dine-in services between 6pm and 4.59am, while also being subject to other restrictions.

Tam Kam-lin, vice-chair of the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions and an employee representative to the Labour Advisory Board, said an unemployment assistance scheme should be set up as some restaurants could be driven out of business by the lacklustre Lunar New Year season.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, a lawmaker for the sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector, said the government’s new round of relief funding should treat gyms and sports venues like restaurants, which received subsidies based on their size in the last round.

“Why is it different for gyms and sports venues? They only received a lump sum of HK$100,000,” he said. “Some large-scale gyms are paying rent of a few hundred thousand.”

Fok also noted that, because of the sporadic nature of their pay, those in the performing arts sector were “much more affected” by venue closures than typical 9-to-5 employees. He went on to say that freelancers should also be covered under the new funding, as many in the sports industry were technically self-employed.

Gianna Hsu Wong Mei-lun, chairwoman of the Travel Industry Council, said the pandemic had “frozen” her sector for two years running, adding that she hoped the government would increase subsidies this time around.

She suggested that agencies with 10 employees or fewer receive up to HK$200,000 each, while those with more than 10 people get a lump sum equivalent to HK$10,000 per staff member. Frontline employees such as coach drivers should receive HK$5,000 per month for up to six months, she added.



Category: Hong Kong

Print This Post

Comments are closed.