Bars, clubs welcome a busier Halloween

Partygoers flocked to bars and clubs in Lan Kwai Fong over the weekend, donning their spookiest costumes to mark Halloween.

Social distancing measures were still in effect though, and crowds had to adhere to strict requirements to mask up and sign in using the LeaveHomeSafe app.

Bar managers and workers that RTHK spoke to said even though there were fewer people celebrating Halloween when compared to pre-pandemic times, their establishments were still fully packed.

“I think it’s the excitement, the thrill,” said Aldrin Ang, the general manager of a restaurant and club in the area.

“[Hong Kong] is the safest place right now, and also I think people are excited to go out – they miss the thrill, the fun, of the events that’s happening,” he said.

“It was really busy, really crowded,” said Joesalyn Mercado, who works at a bar in Lan Kwai Fong. “There were no empty tables or empty chairs.”

Another bar manager told RTHK that customer numbers were still down though, with business down about 50 percent from pre-pandemic times without a regular flow of tourists in the area.

The managers and workers also said they didn’t experience any major problems getting people to observe Covid restrictions, saying they were very strict in making sure people scanned in before entering their premises.

“We are very diligent on that – because if people are not scanning the LeaveHomeSafe, we’re not allowed to serve them. These are the rules,” said Ang.

He said some people weren’t happy, but they had no choice but to turn people away who refused to follow the rules.

Meanwhile, the founding president of the Licensed Bar and Club Association, Leung Lap-yan, has said he expects bar industry turnover to be 20 percent higher on the previous year, as that was the percentage growth in business on Saturday. He said this was the best since the pandemic began.