Restaurants snub govt offer of looser restrictions

Some restaurants are opting out of the looser social distancing restrictions on offer from Thursday, saying they’re not worth the trouble, or they simply can’t comply with them.

Restaurants whose staff are vaccinated and whose customers use the government’s LeaveHomeSafe app can now operate until midnight and seat more than four people per table, while those who take further steps can enjoy additional privileges.

But some restaurants have decided to maintain the status quo.

A Chinese restaurant in Mong Kok told RTHK that only one-third of its staff had been inoculated and many were still hesitant, with quite a number of them over 65 and some having chronic illnesses.

Most of its customers are elderly and won’t use the LeaveHomeSafe app, the restaurant added.

“Some elderly did not install the LeaveHomeSafe app, but they can’t do without yum cha. So we still allow them to leave their personal information instead,” a manager said.

The restaurant also noted that it can already hold banquets for up to 20 people and said requiring customers to be vaccinated so this number can be increased simply isn’t worth it.

A coffee shop near industrial buildings in Kowloon Bay also said there isn’t enough incentive for it to opt for further relaxations when this means demanding customers use the app or hand over their personal information in writing.

Some restaurants said their staff have had Covid vaccines and they are now able to extend their services.

One Chinese restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui said it is using one-third of its space for a special zone, where customers who use the LeaveHomeSafe app can sit together in groups of up to six, with dine-in hours lasting until midnight.

The restaurant said it didn’t force staff to get jabs, but was overjoyed when it learnt that most had been vaccinated.

“We arrange for the vaccinated staff to serve customers in the zone, so the risk of people being infected in this area can be much lower, just like how the government wants,” a manager said.

As for the unvaccinated workers, they would work in other parts of the venue, the restaurant said.

It added that it now expects business to increase by 20 to 30 percent.