Bars propose tweak in curbs to get staff back, avoid closures

Top News | Wallis Wang 15 Oct 2020

More than 400 bar operators have signed a petition pledging to implement stringent preventive measures for customers in the hope authorities would not order their closure again.

They want the government to extend operations for two more hours till 2am so more people can return to their jobs.

Leung Lap-yan, chairman of the joint association of licensed bars and clubs, said over 400 bars out of Hong Kong's 1,400 have signed a "disease-prevention charter" and promised to strictly comply with the government's hygienic guidelines.

He also said they will require their customers to fill in a health declaration form and provide their personal information by scanning a QR code to help health authorities track the spread of the coronavirus if any customer is infected.

Leung said they will also install air ventilators and disinfect tables and drink glasses and will also require customers to socially distance.

Leung also appealed to the government to allow four people to sit at one table.

Meanwhile, the manager of an unlicensed bar in Tsim Sha Tsui was jailed for 14 days and fined HK$10,000 at Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts yesterday for violating the closure order.

Yau Lok-man, 30, pleaded guilty to all four charges, including violating the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation, a charge for knowingly allowing a prohibited group gathering and two counts of possessing liquor for sale and selling liquor without a license.

Three employees at the bar - two men and a woman arrested on the same day - also pleaded guilty to selling liquor without a license and were fined HK$2,000 each.

On April 7, police officers raided the bar during an anti-drug operation and found 87 customers inside.

Police found 668 bottles of unopened alcoholic beverage and found that the bar did not have a license to sell liquor and so arrested the four people.

Yau said he was still applying for a liquor license, while the three employees said they did not know the bar was unlicensed.

The defense said Yau committed the offense only because he and his wife had lost their jobs amid the pandemic.

But magistrate Cheng Lim-chi said the court needs to send a clear message to deter the public from imitating this behavior as violating the closure and social distancing order would have a great impact on the pandemic situation.

On the tourism front, Hong Kong travelers to Singapore will have their quarantine requirement reduced from 14 days to a seven-day homestay notice starting today.

Hong Kong is now added to a list of places where the virus is deemed to be "well under control and the risk of importation is low" and will be treated as a low risk region alongside the mainland, Macau and Taiwan, according to Singapore's Ministry of Health.

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