’70pc of restaurants stick with old rules’

The head of an industry group said on Friday that about 70 percent of restaurants are sticking to the previous Covid-19 restrictions despite a government move to ease the rules for businesses whose staff are vaccinated.

However Simon Wong, who leads the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, told RTHK’s Hong Kong today programme that more businesses could change their stance as more staff undergo vaccination.

Under rules that took effect on Thursday, officials have offered restaurants four options for coronavirus compliance. Under Option B, effectively the status quo, businesses must close by 10pm and seat no more than four people at a table, with diners either leaving contact details or using the official LeaveHomeSafe app.

Under Option C, restaurants can open until midnight and seat six people at a table. However, all staff must have had at least their first dose of vaccine. Wong said about ten to 15 percent of restaurants were operating under this model, and some had split their space between B and C.

“I would estimate that there would be more restaurants looking forward to changing to the C plan, because at the moment more people and more staff in the trade are taking the vaccination,” Wong told RTHK’s Janice Wong.

“Two weeks ago, I did a little survey; about ten percent of staff had taken the vaccines. But since then, until yesterday, there are about 30 percent of the restaurant workers who have already taken the vaccines.

“Later on, I would estimate that more people in the trade would take the vaccines.”

He said so far only a “couple” of restaurants were opting for Option D, under which staff must have had both doses of a vaccine and all customers must have had at least one dose.

He said he expected some larger Chinese restaurants to consider using Option D in the coming weeks.

Under Option A, restaurants are not required to have staff tested or register customers, but must close by 6pm and seat no more than two people at a table.