Govt backs down on app for all diners: lawmaker

The legislator representing the catering sector, Tommy Cheung, said on Friday the government appears to be backing down on its decision to force all diners to use its LeaveHomeSafe app.

The government has proposed once restaurant staff received their first dose of the vaccine, its opening hours can be extended to midnight and up to six people can be seated per table, but customers need to use the notification exposure app too.

Speaking to reporters after meeting health officials, the Liberal Party legislator said restaurants could be given the option of allocating a seating area for people who prefer to write down contact details.

But they’ll have to finish eating by 10pm and capacity will be limited to four per table.

People who are aged 65 or above and those 15 or below will also be exempt from using the app, Cheung added, but noted some restaurants may want to stick with the current social distancing restrictions.

“This is something we don’t want to see. We want restaurants to all come in, get our staff and customers injected, so they can sit more people. So we will get out of this mess we are in,” he said.

Cheung also said restaurant staff would be asked to make a declaration if they can’t get vaccinated against Covid-19 because of health reasons, with the punishment to be decided by the government if they are caught lying.

Bars and karaokes also look set to re-open their doors next week after months of closures.

Cheung quoted officials as saying that they will be allowed to open until 2am, provided all staff and customers have been inoculated. He said officials have promised to review the situation every two weeks.

The chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Group Allan Zeman welcomed the news.

“I am sure there will be problems and things we haven’t thought of will come up. But I think it’s a good start… It’s a baby step forward, let’s give the bars and karaokes a chance to start and then see what the problems are,” he said.

The government is expected to announce the further relaxation of social distancing measures next week.