CE thinks party restaurant operated beyond capacity

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she believes the restaurant involved in the birthday party saga last week was operating “well beyond its capacity” as investigations continue.

Health authorities said on Monday 214 people were at the birthday party on January 3.

“This was, in my view, well beyond the capacity of this restaurant,” Lam told reporters before the weekly Executive Council meeting.

“I’m sure the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will shortly release some preliminary investigations about the restaurant, whether this restaurant could actually legally operate with this sort of dinner gathering.”

The chief executive believes the final tally may be higher.

Lam said she hasn’t been to the restaurant herself, and her view was based on news reports.

She said while the FEHD is probing the matter, the Chief Executive’s Office and the Civil Service Bureau are leading disciplinary investigations of senior officials who went to the party.

Lam said after the emergence of Omicron cases in late December, a government meeting took place on December 31 and a press conference was held to remind the people of Hong Kong to avoid large-scale gatherings, and officials should be mindful of that.

Some lawmakers who were at the party held by local NPC deputy Witman Hung have said the focus should not be on the event, but on the flouting of rules by Cathay Pacific staff which allowed the Omicron variant in.

Meanwhile, the chief executive said she had been to a wedding banquet more than a month ago before the Omicron wave hit Hong Kong.

In a letter to the South China Morning Post, former official Raymond Young wrote that he was at a wedding banquet where Lam had “stayed briefly”.

Lam said she was there for about 10 minutes and left after offering her congratulations.

She also said she disagreed with Young’s assertions that the Spanish restaurant where Hung’s party was held met the requirements of a Type D establishment.