Tutorial centers ask for public funds for operating costs

Local | 14 Feb 2020 1:26 pm

Operators of nearly 800 tutorial and education centers have called on the government to help pay for their expenses being bcause they had to close down due to the coronavirus epidemic, RTHK reports.

Schools and kindergartens in Hong Kong also remain shut.

Tutorial center bosses say because they are registered with the government, they have no choice but to close as they have been instructed, unlike other private businesses.

"We are the only industry the government has forced to stop business," said one operator, Jacob Yam.

They are asking for support icluding paying half of the rent. They also claim they have lost nearly 90 percent of students, and losses reach HK$100,000 per month and expect a wave of closures.

The head of another tutorial center, Trevor So, said some operstors have begun a "countdown to closure," and many won't survive more than a few months as they burn through the cash they have available to pay expenses.

"We need to pay for the salary of our tutors. We need to pay for the rent. If we have no students at all, we can't run the business. If the government keeps stopping the schools from running, we can't support [ourselves] anymore. So that's why we will need to close our schools,'' So said.

He said at least 800 operators had expressed support for the move to ask the government to pay half of their expenses while their centers are shuttered.

So said that as a parent himself, he understands that children's health must come first. But he said he thinks center operators should be allowed to stay open if they can provide adequate cleaning and other measures to prevent any spread of the virus.

Another operator, Stephen Yiu, said he runs two centers with monthly expenses of around HK$400,000. He said he is still paying his staff their full salaries and he will borrow money if he has to, to stay afloat as long as possible.

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