‘Small restaurants may struggle with new rules’

The president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, Simon Wong, says he believes big restaurants will benefit the most from the government’s latest measures to ease social distancing rules for the catering sector, while smaller establishments might struggle to meet the requirements.

From Thursday, restaurants will be allowed to stay open till 2am and seat as many as eight people at a table, but only if their customers and staff have received Covid vaccines.

In many cases, customers will have to use the government’s LeaveHomeSafe app, and provide evidence of their vaccination, and some patrons will only be allowed in specific “zones” within a venue.

But Wong said not all restaurants would find the measures easy to follow.

“We also feel it’s kind of complicated, because of the different stages or measures imposing on the catering industry. Our industry is a very complicated industry with big restaurants, small restaurants, and even some micro-restaurants, very small ones. It’s not easy for all restaurants to follow the new measures,” he said.

Wong said he believes some big Chinese restaurants now have an incentive to ask their staff to get vaccinated, so they can hold large banquets.

However, he said it would be difficult for small restaurants to comply with voluntary requirements like setting up separate areas for vaccinated customers, due to their limited space.

Nevertheless, Wong welcomed the government’s move saying they are helpful first steps to support the sector and to encourage people to get vaccinated.