Restaurants worried about impact of vaccine mandates

A representative of the catering business has expressed worries that stricter vaccine mandates will cost restaurants at least a fifth of their business.

Chui Man-wai from the Institute of Dining Professionals said on a radio programme on Monday that people usually start booking tables for next month’s Lunar New Year holiday around this time of the year, but many are holding off to see if social distancing rules will change in case there’s a new wave of outbreaks.

The government had announced plans to expand the vaccine bubble ahead of Lunar New Year, and require people to have at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine to dine in at restaurants, or visit the gym, cinemas, libraries and beauty parlours.

“There will be a big impact. If the policy is really launched, business will drop by at least 20 to 30 percent, because for many reunion dinners or festive meals, the whole family will dine together,” Chui said.

“The chain reaction will be huge. For instance, in a family of six people… if one elderly relative hasn’t taken the jab, the other five might not dine out anymore,” he said.

Speaking on the same programme, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said the public had responded positively to the planned expansion of the vaccine bubble, with the number of people getting a first dose hitting a one-month high on Sunday.

She also warned that the government may further tighten the vaccine mandates if necessary.

She also said authorities are working hard to contain the outbreak linked to the Moon Palace restaurant in Kowloon Tong, and around 340 people have been sent into quarantine.

Meanwhile, a government pandemic advisor, David Hui, said there’s no need to tighten other social distancing measures at the moment, such as suspending classes or resuming working-from-home.

“If we have some infections with unknown sources coming from places besides the Moon Palace restaurant, then we have to immediately tighten the measures,” he said.