The Food and Health Bureau on Thursday apologised for the confusion created when a ban on some businesses was extended, after different statements left media and many establishments unsure about what it all meant.
The new closure order covers karaoke lounges, mahjong parlours and nightclubs as the government ramps up its measures against the coronavirus epidemic.
But many businesses were left confused for hours on Wednesday afternoon after new regulations covering six types of businesses were gazetted at 3pm.
However, it was left unclear what exactly the regulations were, until the government released a Chinese-language statement just minutes before the closures took effect at 6pm, with an English version following more than an hour later.
This clarified that 14-day bans would be imposed only on karaoke bars, mahjong parlours and nightclubs, while club houses, beauty centres and massage parlours will only be required to take preventative measures such as requiring all visitors to wear facemasks and have their temperatures taken.
Speaking on an RTHK programme, the Deputy Health Secretary, Howard Chan, said he was sorry for the authorities’ failure to immediately explain the new order to the public, leading to the chaos.
He said the government would look at ways to improve its announcements.
“I hope the public can understand that the government had to take decisive action within a short time to stop the spread of the virus in the community as the pandemic is developing fast,” he said.
But beauty parlours blasted the government for causing “complete chaos”, with some businesses asking clients to leave immediately and cancelling appointments on Wednesday afternoon when they mistakenly thought the new regulations required them to close temporarily.
The chairman of Hong Kong Federation of Beauty Industry, Nelson Yip, said he understood precautionary measures were needed in view of the pandemic, but he criticised the government over its lack of communication with the trade.
He said that a beautician being confirmed with the coronavirus infection on Wednesday had served as a "warning" for the trade.
The worker at a beauty parlour in Tsim Sha Tsui fell ill after serving a customer who was subsequently confirmed to be infected last week.
Yip said beauty parlours need more stringent hygiene measures, for example, clients will be asked to wear face masks unless they are undergoing facial treatments.
Govt apologises over botched beauty parlour curbs
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