Lam saga music to ears of bar owners

Editorial | Mary Ma 15 Oct 2020

It is truly a challenge to adapt to the new normal forced upon us by the harsh realities of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hanging out in bars for a rendezvous is already taboo due to the emergence of a recent cluster at China Secret in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Now a night out to destress after a hard day at the office with the kind of classical enrichment afforded by a top-notch orchestra may soon also join the list - as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor recently found out.

That came with the sour note soon after, when a musician at the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra performance was found to be infected, sparking fears of a new cluster and forcing Lam and everyone else there to be tested for Covid-19.

Lam's office assured the media that she is clear, and it is so far, so good as her test results - yes, multiple tests were administered - were negative, which meant she could move around freely, including taking a trip to Shenzhen to join President Xi Jinping.

But her home affairs chief Caspar Tsui Ying-wai was less lucky as he went backstage to visit members of the philharmonic orchestra, so he's now in a state of de facto self-isolation. Apart from eating with his family members, Tsui has stopped all public activities and has to avoid socializing.

Their experiences may not be unique, but they remind us that nobody, regardless of identity or station in life, is spared by this or any other disease, when even heads of governments can be vulnerable.

I have no doubt that Lam and Tsui will steer clear of concerts for the foreseeable future. It would also surprise me if Lam asks her senior colleagues to practice the same habit of avoidance too in order to set an example.

Yet, prevention is often easier said than done.

It's fortunate that after so many months of battling the coronavirus, doctors here and elsewhere have gone a long way in understanding the virus. They know how to treat the patients with serious symptoms to keep fatality numbers low. Clinical trials done in other places have also shown common vitamin D supplements can be useful in treating patients.

Perhaps, as Hongkongers are encouraged to remain on high alert while pharmaceutical companies race against the clock to develop vaccines, the public should be advised to take vitamin D supplements to enhance their defenses.

In the fight against diseases, it is always advisable to err on the side of caution, and of course this pandemic is no exception to that cardinal rule given its fatality rate.

However, as the government prepares any new strategy, it has to be fully explained to society to increase public acceptance.

Restrictions imposed on bars are already stringent and further measures to lock down bars can drive many of these venues out of business with workers losing their jobs. Although the China Secret cluster remains a concern, further restrictions will have to be clearly explained.

Better still, new restrictions may come with support.

Bar owners complained that they have been singled out for punishment during these months of business pain. Although the complaints are far from being true, they're understandable - especially when people are still allowed to gather in enclosed spaces to listen to musical performances.

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