A restaurant chain owner has questioned whether Hong Kong's Covid-19 testing capacity can handle the regular checks of some 300,000 catering sector workers, after the government announced plans to extend the hours of restaurant dine-in services after the Lunar New Year holiday.
Conditions for the reopening include having restaurant workers tested every fortnight, and requiring all customers to use the government's LeaveHomeSafe tracing app or register their personal information.
Wong Kit-lung, who's also the president of the Dining Art Institution, said on Thursday that the catering sector can only follow the government's requirements.
He said eateries have no bargaining power as they are fighting for their own survival, after a nighttime dining-in ban of over two months seriously hurt their businesses.
But Wong expressed concern over whether the city has sufficient capacity to handle so many tests a day.
"During the peak of testing, 650,000 tests had been done for the month of December. But [testing every fortnight] means 600,000 tests for the catering sector alone, and you also want to test teachers. You also need tests for lockdowns and other medical reasons - the government just needs to resolve this issue," he said on a radio programme.
In response, health minister Sophia Chan told RTHK that Hong Kong now tests around 100,000 people a day, adding that different people can get tested at different times.
Meanwhile, there have been about 500,000 downloads of the government's LeaveHomeSafe tracing app, which accounts for around six percent of the local population.
Chan said while she understands that many people may have privacy concerns about the app, it is a simple way to record a user's whereabouts. If people choose instead to register their information with businesses and restaurants, these places will keep the data for 31 days.
The minister also urged the public to remain vigilant during the Lunar New Year holiday, saying there is a risk of a rebound in coronavirus cases.