Return of live shows in bars brings no expected rebound in revenue

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The first day to bring live performances back to bars and nightclubs showed no signs of the industry picking up, veterans said.

Hong Kong eased restrictions on allowing live performances in bars and nightclubs today, but performers must receive nucleic acid tests within seven days and take rapid tests before their performance, according to health authorities last week.

The number of group gatherings has also increased from four to 12 under the new measures.

However, the night on the town did not see the atmosphere boosted in bars, industry veterans said.

“We are only allowed to serve until 2 a.m. in accordance with disease prevention rules,” said a worker at a bar in Lan Kwai Fong. “It’s not the ideal time for our customers,” he said, pointing out that many bars that offer live football matches to customers have been significantly affected by the restriction.

A bar owner said his business income will not see a recovery in the short term as only a few tourists come to Hong Kong due to entry restrictions.

He added that he would invite bands to perform at his bar from Saturday, but doubted the effect this would have on the business.

Chin Chun-wing, president of the Hong Kong Bar and Club Association, welcomed the new measures to expect a 20-30% increase in business with the return of live shows and the upcoming peak season for Halloween and the FIFA World Cup.

However, he agreed that restricting dine-in times would discourage business growth and called for the full lifting of bar service hours granted by the government.

In his policy speech yesterday, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said Hong Kong would roll out “a series of precise, risk-based anti-epidemic measures in phases” and “gradually relax control measures.”

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