Five groups representing the catering industry have demanded that the government ease its Covid restrictions on restaurants, warning that more eateries could be forced to close as residents opt to travel instead of spending domestically.
They called for the seating cap of eight people per table to be expanded to 12, and the scrapping of a limit of 120 people for banquets and restrictions on operating hours.
The groups making the appeal were the Association of Restaurant Managers, the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, the Association for Hong Kong Catering Services Management, the Institute of Dining Professionals and the Hong Kong Japanese Restaurant Association.
"The epidemic restrictions on catering businesses have remained the same since a round of easing in May, and residents' willingness to spend in restaurants have not been recovering," they wrote in a joint letter to Chief Executive John Lee on Saturday.
They pointed out that restaurant owners have been suffering from rising costs due to inflation, while their businesses "hover at a low point".
And they warned more closures and sackings could be looming for the sector as residents are expected to travel out of the SAR for Christmas following the scrapping of hotel quarantine for arrivals.
"The catering industry may face an unprecedented critical situation, a new round of severe winter," they said.
The groups also appealed for the lifting of the ban on live performances and a requirement on tables to be at least 1.5 metres apart.
They stressed the restrictions have to be relaxed as soon as possible for the catering sector to "have a little more room to survive".