Industry leaders want more easing of distancing rules

Leaders of the catering, film and fitness industries said on Friday that the easing of social distancing measures from April 21 will not be enough to boost business, and that new testing rules for staff could put pressure on their operations.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, Chui Man-wai, chairman of the Institute of Dining Professionals, said a new requirement for restaurants to sponsor their staff to get rapid tests done every three days from next Thursday will put a strain on businesses.

He said the requirement may cost small eateries more than HK$1,000 every month and that bigger restaurants may have to fork out more than HK$10,000. He added that it will be burdensome for restaurants to check whether their staff are complying with the rule.

Chui said he hopes the government will scrap the requirement when the pandemic situation is under control.

Tenky Tin, a spokesman for the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, said he welcomed the government’s decision to allow cinemas to reopen from next Thursday, but that he is disappointed they will have to operate at 50 percent capacity.

The government also announced on Thursday that cinemas can serve food and drinks at certain theatres if their staff and all visitors inside the venue are triple-jabbed.

Tin said the arrangement would be difficult to enforce, because cinemas will need more manpower to check visitors’ vaccine passes. He added that he believes customers also won’t find the arrangement enticing.

Under the easing of social distancing measures from April 21, gyms will be allowed to operate at 50 percent of their capacity and host groups of up to four people.

Lee Yuet-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Recreation and Sports Professionals General Union, said the fitness industry found the easing “just acceptable”, adding that is preferable to keeping gyms closed.

But he urged authorities to further relax the limit and allow groups of up to 12 people if no outbreaks are recorded at gyms following the initial relaxation.

Lee also said his sector was disappointed that swimming pools have not been allowed to reopen, adding that this will affect people who need to receive hydrotherapy.