Takeaways a lifesaver for eateries

Top News | Sophie Hui 30 Mar 2020

Some restaurants saw strong business from takeaway orders yesterday, with crowds staying away from bars and eateries as Saturday's new social distancing rules kicked in.

Restaurants are required not to seat more than four people at each table, and not to fill more than half of the seats for the next two weeks.

The distance between tables should not be less than 1.5 meters, or some form of partition should be put up.

Restaurants also need to take customers' temperature before letting them in and put hand sanitizers at entrances.

Customers have to wear masks all the time in the restaurant, except when they are eating or drinking.

But some premises were shut down for the next fortnight - until April 10 - including amusement game centers, bathhouses, gyms, cinemas and other places of amusement and entertainment, as well as party rooms. Karaokes and mahjong parlors are not covered by the ban.

Speaking at yesterday's City Forum, Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said only 20 people showed up at Lan Kwai Fong on Saturday night in "an unprecedented hardship for the industry.'' Fewer customers went dining at restaurants in Causeway Bay, while some small restaurants did not have any customers, he said.

He suggested the government provide a HK$500,000 subsidy to each bar and restaurant, while each snack shop can have HK$300,000 to pay rent and salaries.

A Taiwanese restaurant at Park Central in Tseung Kwan O saw a 70 percent drop in dine-in customers yesterday, but there were more takeaway orders.

"The business has been affected but the measures are necessary, and many customers have turned to order takeaways," its manager, surnamed Poon, said.

She said the restaurant has spaced out some tables to let customers sit further apart.

Meanwhile, a To Kwa Wan restaurant was reported to the police for seating diners too closely, and was persuaded to allow fewer people inside.

Some citizens continued to go yum cha yesterday, where a dozen people queued outside Jade Garden at PopCorn in Tseung Kwan O.

A family of four surnamed Ku said they feel safer with the new measures.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and catering sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan visited two restaurants in Quarry Bay yesterday afternoon to inspect their social distancing measures.

While wedding ceremonies with no more than 20 people are allowed, wedding banquets fall under the rules, meaning couples have to drastically scale down celebrations.

At Tsim Sha Tsui Marriage Registry yesterday, a couple surnamed Wan said they would not hold a wedding banquet while their family and friends would all wear masks when taking photos.

In another wedding banquet in Tsim Sha Tsui on Saturday night, the groom said some guests gave their wedding cash gifts and left.

In California, a couple used Zoom to livestream their wedding as their friends and relatives could not attend under the state's lockdown.

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