Health officials said on Monday that it’s unclear whether two bars which have seen Covid outbreaks breached social distancing rules by hiring DJs to play live music or hosting hundreds of patrons on one night, but added that the authorities will look into the matter.
This came as officials reported 11 more Covid cases involving people who visited Iron Fairies on Hollywood Road in the evening of May 21, and eight more cases from Zentral bar in Lan Kwai Fong that same night.
Among the new cases linked to the two clusters are two men who knew each other and visited both bars that night.
There have been a total of 22 infections linked to Iron Fairies and 23 to Zentral bar. Authorities said environmental samples collected from the bars all came back negative.
Video clips circulating online showed unmasked patrons dancing to DJs at Zentral bar this month.
Currently, bars are not allowed to hold live performances, but representatives from the industry have urged authorities to clarify whether the playing of music by DJs is considered as a type of live performance banned under current Covid regulations.
“For the question on the DJs, I have no further supplement, because this is under the regulations of the relevant authority including the Food and Health Bureau. I think they will look into the issue and if there is any violation, they will take necessary enforcement actions against the bars which had violated the Cap. 599F,” said Albert Au from the Centre for Health Protection (CHP).
He noted that around 700 people visited each of the bars on the night in question, but said authorities have yet to find out whether the premises breached capacity restrictions.
“Our preliminary investigation revealed that most of the cases, or nearly all of the cases had taken off their masks while they visited these two premises that evening. We suspect that there might be an infectious person who was carrying the virus and who patronised the two bars, causing transmission in an enclosed environment with inadequate or poor ventilation. And also many of the people took off their masks. This will increase the risk of infection," Au said.
He added that the environment inside the two bars was quite crowded, with people engaging in what he called high-risk activities, such as drinking and dancing, without putting their masks on.
Au said he believes relevant authorities will review whether there’s a need to tighten social distancing rules at bars in light of the outbreaks.
Officials also said one more student of a basketball coach confirmed with the virus after visiting Zentral bar had come down with the virus. Eight of 29 students who had training with the coach have been infected.
Authorities also reported 45 new cases from schools, including six students from DSC International School in Taikoo Shing and Pok Oi Hospital Tang Pui King Memorial College in Yuen Long.
Meanwhile, the CHP said it had found four new suspected BA.2.12.1 infections among residents of Tai Koo, but added that there is no evidence to suggest the Omicron subvariant is more serious than other Omicron subvariants.
In all, Hong Kong reported 275 new Covid infections on Monday, including 48 imported cases. Two more people infected with the virus had died, taking the city’s death toll amid the fifth wave to 9,165.