First introduced on March 27, Hong Kong’s social distancing rules meant that eateries are to limit tables to four customers, operate at 50% capacity while also maintaining a 1.5 metres gap between each table. To much F&B owners dismay, the rules were to be extended for a further two weeks until May 7.
As such, temperature check, use of hand sanitizers and even signing a declaration of no travel before entering has been the new norm for many foodies.
Black Sheep Restaurant group, managing over 23 restaurants, including Belon and Fukuro, writes on their COVID-19 handbook, “If the situation declines and government mandates a shutdown, we will be the first to get behind it, but until then… we have to do everything we can to keep the lights on in their homes, keep their kids enrolled in school and a roof over their heads.”
However, with limited seating and turning down customers who refuse to sign a health form or have a temperature over 37.5 means cost saving measures are strictly in placed. Keeping small inventories, eliminating proteins, specials and lowest selling dishes have been implemented.
Other restaurants have resorted to more creative ways to ensure their customers are feeling as safe as possible in their dining experience.
A cha chaan teng in Tai Kok Tsui put up acrylic panel walls to divide diners while allowing them to interact face to face. Other restaurants and canteens have also taken similar precautionary measures. The Pizza Project in Peel Street, Central set up physical barricades between tables, while the coffee chain conglomerate Starbucks used masking tapes to mark unavailable tables.
With the current on-going situation, demand for two major food delivery services, Food Panda and Deliveroo, has seen a drastic rise. In an interview with TatlerHK, a Spokesperson representing Deliveroo confirmed over 1,500 new restaurants have joined Deliveroo since January 2020-a leap of 200% over the course of eight weeks.
Many locals and medical experts are predicting Hong Kong may be able to ease social distancing measures as early as May as the city confirmed 3 days in a week with no new cases.