Calls to partially reopen arts and sport venues

Key figures of the arts, culture and sport sectors on Thursday called on the government to partially re-open premises, saying their abrupt closure last week because of the Omicron variant left many workers with no income.

At a press conference organised by the sector’s lawmaker, Kenneth Fok, those in the trade said they’re not hopeful that the premises can fully reopen next week after the initial 14-day closure ordered by the government.

Industry leaders said the government should consider allowing them to operate with some restrictions in place, such as wearing masks and a ban on spectators.

Fok said with a partial reopening, performances could be streamed online.

“By opening in a restricted way, [say] only for performers and athletes, it really gives them a glimpse of life, it gives them a little window – they can still operate, they can still train, they can still get paid, in some way,” Fok said.

“In the long run, we really want the government to scientifically evaluate the risks associated with these activities, rather than just shut everything down, every time.”

Fok said there had not been cases of Covid transmission in places such as cinemas, performance theatres and sportsgrounds.

He also noted that it takes months, if not more than a year, to plan for performances or train for major competition.

The vice chairwoman of the Performing Industry Association, Lisa Hui, said the uncertainty caused by the pandemic has led to a brain drain, with some talented artists forced to make career switches for better income security.

She said that’s not good for Hong Kong because the city has always been an international hub where fans could enjoy performances.