McRefugees welcomed back, but govt urged to step in - RTHK
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McRefugees welcomed back, but govt urged to step in

2020-04-08 HKT 12:48
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  • Homeless people have been unable to sleep in McDonald's restaurants for the past two weeks due to dine-in restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. File image: RTHK
    Homeless people have been unable to sleep in McDonald's restaurants for the past two weeks due to dine-in restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. File image: RTHK
Jeff Rotmeyer talks to RTHK's Joanne Wong
A decision by McDonald's to resume dine-in services in the evenings will bring a sigh of relief for the hundreds of Hong Kong people who sleep in the fast food giant's restaurants each night.

But a charity says while it's good news that these so-called "McRefugees" can return to their usual sleeping spots from Wednesday, it's time for the government to stop leaving it to the restaurant chain to put a roof over so many people's heads.

"I'm grateful that McDonald's are going to open up the doors again for 24 hours, because that's going to mean that hundreds of individuals are going to be able to go back and find a somewhat safe place to sleep," said Jeff Rotmeyer, founder of the NGO ImpactHK.

"[But] fast food restaurants are not the solution for homelessness in Hong Kong and I hope that the Hong Kong government will stop taking for granted the amount of shelter that is being provided by McDonald's," he added.

Rotmeyer told RTHK's Joanne Wong that the government must see that the situation is unacceptable and it has to take quick action to remedy it.

He said the charity had raised almost HK$700,000 through crowdfunding since McDonald's announced its restaurant restrictions over the virus outbreak two weeks ago, with the money paying for hotels for almost 50 "McRefugees" over the past 11 days.

Rotmeyer said it had been an emotional experience for those who had moved into hotels, with some of them breaking down in tears.

"The people on the streets who are homeless in Hong Kong are dying every single day... It's a really shockingly overwhelming state and it's just unacceptable that in a city like this, individuals feel like they have nowhere to go and then depend on a fast food restaurant."