Hong Kong's restaurant industry will miss out on HK$7 billion in February after the government extended social distancing measures to cover the lucrative Lunar New Year holiday, the president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades said on Tuesday.
Simon Wong told RTHK's Hong Kong Today that the industry normally booked a profit of HK$10 billion from the holiday period, which was enough to see restaurants through the lean months from March to May.
Since December, however, restaurants have been banned from serving dine-in customers after 6pm and are also subject to capacity restrictions and social distancing regulations during the hours when they are open.
"It is complete nonsense to lock down at night and allow people to dine out during the day," Wong told RTHK's Mike Weeks. "And then, as you say, there are many people walking on the street and visiting shopping malls and going to many tourist areas.
"They are very crowded, actually. But, probably, the government leaders don't see this situation."
Wong said some 3,000 restaurants were now on the verge of being forced to close.
The government said on Monday that almost all social distancing regulations would be extended until February 17, the sixth day of the Lunar New Year, meaning restaurants will have to close early throughout the holiday.
Officials said they were launching 10 days of aggressive action to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the hope of easing restrictions on businesses and gradually reopening schools afterwards.