The bar industry has been expecting ‘revenge-style’ drinking early on when it can finally reopen businesses on Thursday following the second phase of the Covid-19 rule easing. Still, operators do not hold out much hope that business will return to pre-pandemic levels in the long term.
The industry has been ordered by the government to suspend operations for more than five months since the city entered its fifth and worst wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in early January.
Ahead of the reopening on Wednesday, staff members were spotted cleaning the store and preparing bottles of sanitizers and stacks of wet wipes for customers. An operator said he would reopen the bar at exactly midnight.
Ben Leung Lap-yan, founding president of Hong Kong’s Licensed Bar and Club Association, said that although they are already getting used to unpredictable closing or reopening orders, the biggest problem remains the labor shortage. ‘work.
Leung pointed out that some staff have been working other part-time jobs and waiting for bars to reopen during the shutdown, but most have moved on to other industries permanently for fear that bars will be forced to close their doors at any time.
Besides the rising costs of hiring employees, operating costs, including rent and wholesale prices, still pose a huge financial burden on businesses, Leung noted.
He went on to say that citizens’ drinking pattern had changed and the government was imposing more restrictions on bars than restaurants, with only four guests served at a table and a closing time set at 2 a.m.
He feared that the public would not go to a real bar, but to a redecorated restaurant where up to eight people can be served per table.
On another note, Hong Kong Bar & Club Association President Chin Chun-wing said peak hours for bars are between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Setting the closing time at 2 a.m. means the industry will lose at least a third of its business, Chin said.
Regarding the experts’ warning about a possible wave of six, Chin said he understands people are worried, but hopes those experts won’t “make a big deal out of the pandemic.”
“The most important question is whether there is a new mutated variant. Many people have been injected with Covid-19 now and the risk should remain at low levels,” he also said.