July 31, 2020 - 15:14 AMT
Hong Kong drops restaurant dining ban after people forced to eat in streets

Hong Kong’s government has reversed a day-old ban on restaurants serving dine-in customers that was introduced to control the spread of coronavirus, following widespread public anger, The Guardian reports.

All restaurants in the city of 7.5 million were ordered to serve only takeaways from Wednesday, July 29 as part of a raft of ramped-up social-distancing measures to combat a fresh wave of virus cases.

Social media were quickly swamped by photos of mostly blue-collar workers eating on pavements and parks – and even inside public toilets to escape a torrential downpour.

Restaurant groups with links to influential pro-Beijing parties also voiced dismay at the measures, which had been encouraged by epidemiologists to slow infections.

On Thursday, city authorities published new guidelines saying restaurants could operate dine-in facilities – but only during the day, at half capacity, and with no more than two people at a table. In the evenings they must stick to serving only takeaway meals.

The government said the suspension of dine-in meals had brought “inconvenience and difficulties”.

Hong Kong had been a poster child for tackling the virus, with local transmissions all but ended by early summer. But the virus has returned in recent weeks, brought in by tens of thousands of people who were exempt from a mandatory quarantine imposed on most arrivals.

Photo. AP