The penalties for failing to comply with this directive under Hong Kong’s Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation are HK$50,00 (€6,000) and six months in prison.
According to the HK government it has been reviewing the feasibility of the relevant measures and “will make timely adjustments in view of the latest developments of the disease”.
But reaction to the latest move has been mixed.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, “The bar industry accused officials of singling it out, while the government was pilloried for not taking action earlier and legal experts described the plan as fraught with potential loopholes.”
Speaking at a press conference recently, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee described bars and pubs as “high risk areas”.
But Cat Hou Chui-shan, Chairwoman of the Bartenders and Mixologists Union of Hong Kong, stated that, “The government chooses to target bars, but the public can still buy alcohol in convenience stores and some restaurants”.
She also called for financial support for the 2,000 or so bartenders in the city, according to the Morning Post.
“She added the move was ‘not planned thoroughly enough’ comparing it to last month’s abandoned proposal from Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to ban bars and restaurants from selling alcohol.
“Barrister Tien Kei-rui of the Progressive Lawyers Group said bars might be able to swerve the ban given the law only applied to premises that ‘mainly or exclusively’ sell or supply alcohol.
“‘If the venues can prove that food is their main business while provision of alcoholic drinks is just supplementary, then they might continue to operate,” he said.
“‘Convenience stores and supermarkets could also continue their sales of alcohol because it’s not a consumption place.’”
Hong Kong’s on-trade has complained that the “ever-changing” announcements by the authorities have been difficult to follow and given at such short notice that it has not had the time to make adequate preparations.