Groups of 8 or more dining in Hong Kong required to Covid test

PHOTO: Diners in groups in Hong Kong restaurants will need proof of a Covid test. (via Wikimedia)

A new Covid-19 regulation that came into effect yesterday in Hong Kong is drawing ire from groups of diners and restaurants. The new rule requires all members of any group of eight or more dining in restaurants to present a photo of a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of dining or a text message confirmation of a negative PCR test within 48-hour. Restaurants are predicting significant losses due to the inconvenience.

One restaurant owner complained that he’s expecting losses of 20% after receiving several large group cancellations already, and no longer seeing any groups of more than seven people coming in to eat. They stocked up on rapid antigen tests for sale for the equivalent of 46 baht each in case groups came in without the mandatory testing proof, though allowing testing onsite requires additional burdens of sterilising and disinfecting a testing area.

The new policy is an extension of a similar rule in place for bars and pubs. It was announced just two days ago and went into effect immediately, but there is a one-week grace period to allow businesses to adapt and comply. Opponents are hoping that the grace period can be extended another week before restaurants have to embrace the Covid inconvenience.

Coronavirus infections are on the rise in Hong Kong and the city-state’s Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki said that the tighter restriction is a necessary evil.

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“As people take off their masks at such events, the risk of spreading the coronavirus is larger. The daily caseload has been increasing, and could exceed 10,000 infections. We need to strike a balance between people’s livelihood and anti-epidemic needs. We hope that when the infection number decreases, we can relax the rules again.”

Along with the restaurant rule, Hong Kong will require quarantining for unvaccinated people with Covid over 70 years old and will adjust its focus in clinics to be prepared for treating Covid-19 patients.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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