Paper out as app is in for all facilities

Top News | Wallis Wang 24 Nov 2021

Hongkongers will be required to use the LeaveHomeSafe app at all restaurants, cinemas, gyms and theme parks starting December 9, the government announced yesterday.

Dine-in customers will no longer be allowed to jot down their information on paper in restaurants.

In a statement yesterday, the government said the requirement to use the LeaveHomeSafe app will be extended to all premises under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation starting from December 9, to "enhance the efficiency and accuracy of exposure risk tracing and testing upon identification of a confirmed case."

The premises include all restaurants, bars, bathhouses, gyms, party rooms, beauty parlors, clubs, sports premises and entertainment premises.

All customers must first scan the LeaveHomeSafe QR code before entering the premises.

"We will closely liaise with the relevant trades in the coming two weeks to ensure the smooth implementation of the relevant measures. We appeal to the public to cooperate and comply with the relevant requirements in order to further enhance the anti-epidemic capacity of Hong Kong," a government spokesman said.

The government also said social distancing measures will be extended for another two weeks until December 8.

But the current passenger capacity limit of cruise ships at 50 percent will be increased to 75 percent starting from December 1 for the smooth operation of "cruise-to-nowhere" itineraries.

A Mong Kok restaurant staff, Chan, said she expected more customers would buy takeouts instead of dining in after the required use of the app takes effect.

She said 70 percent of customers are using the app now while others, mostly youngsters, write down their information.

Chan said the restaurant has already adjusted its service amid the pandemic, including providing takeout, and the restaurant owners will deploy more staff in handling takeout orders.

A 68-year-old customer at a takeout food store, Kan, said he has cut down on dine-ins since the pandemic to protect himself.

"Many people are not following the rules and not all of them would record their whereabouts as required," he said.

Kan believes the expansion of compulsory use of the app is a good thing, but the government should still allow the elderly and those in need to be exempted from the requirement.

"Not everyone knows how to use a smartphone. The elderly may still forget how to use a smartphone after learning about it because of their age," he said.

The Hong Kong Blind Union said yesterday that it's hard for visually impaired people to use the app. If the authorities decide to require all people to use the app, they should provide assistance to them.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said most restaurants agree that it should be made mandatory for customers to use the app if that means social distancing rules could be relaxed further.

However Wong added that people sometimes write down wrong or inaccurate information, causing great stress to staff members.

He also revealed that the government's intention is not to hold restaurants to be liable if their customers use a fake app.

"This is the customers' own responsibility. They will violate the law by using a fake app and the restaurants do not want to be unjustly accused," Wong said.

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