'Restaurants need new lifeline to stay afloat' - RTHK
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'Restaurants need new lifeline to stay afloat'

2020-11-30 HKT 18:58
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  • Restaurants will be closed from 10 pm each day from Wednesday, a move that is expected to deal a further blow to the ailing industry. File photo: RTHK
    Restaurants will be closed from 10 pm each day from Wednesday, a move that is expected to deal a further blow to the ailing industry. File photo: RTHK
Simon Wong talks to Frances Sit
The president of the Federation of Restaurants said the latest social-distancing measures deal a further blow to a trade already battered by Covid-19 and appealed for fresh government financial support to prevent eateries from going out of business and workers from losing their jobs.

Simon Wong said December normally spells brisk business for the trade. But he said measures requiring eateries to close at 10pm and limiting to two the number of people at each table from Wednesday would result in a 60 percent drop in business.

He pointed out that a lot of banquets have been booked for the month, which will now be cancelled.

"If these measures continue for some time, such as for another couple of weeks, a lot of restaurant owners are not able to sustain the business as they have been hurt by the pandemic for already a few months," Wong told RTHK's Frances Sit.

"And then there's no other subsidy which can help the industry to survive.

"The government has the responsibility to help us in this case."

He said the government should step in, having ruled out a third round of the Employment Support Subsidy earlier.

"We're hoping that besides the help of the government, we also look forward to drastic cuts in rents by the landlord," Wong said.

He said 2,300 restaurants were closed in the past month alone and warned that the upward trend would worsen, resulting in more job losses.

And he expects a drop in turnout from HK$11 billion to HK$5 billion for the trade in December because of the latest curbs.

"That would further increase the operating pressure for the restaurant owners, and it would definitely push the unemployment rate to go up."