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Musicians back in business, as gathering limit raised to 50 people

16 June 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

HK musicians hope popular night spots like Lan Kwai Fong will come alive again - soon

In a further sign that the coronavirus threat in Hong Kong has eased, health authorities announced today, Jun 16, that the gathering ban will be relaxed further, allowing up to 50 people to get together in public starting Friday, Jun 19.

Further, restaurants may now all operate at full capacity, and pubs and nightclubs may now offer live shows and singing, although performers must wear masks and keep a distance from patrons.

This latest piece of information has buoyed the spirits of Manuela D. Lo, chairperson of the Hong Kong Musicians Union, whose 120-plus members have all lost their jobs as a result of the ban on live performances, imposed since late Apr 3.

“I am so thankful for this. Although I am not expecting instant relief, I hope that in due time, we can all go back work,” Lo said.

She has been at pains to offer help, not just to HKMU members, but also to musicians on temporary work visas, many of whom were affected when Covid-19 swept across four bars where they worked.

Of these musicians, 24 tested positive for coronavirus, and were hospitalized for weeks. A further 49 were put under quarantine. All of them were eventually sidelined when the bars they worked at were shut, and live performances were banned.
But at least, their employers are still providing them rent-free accommodation, said Lo.

Musicians who are permanent residents are worse hit because they have to pay rent and provide for family members despite losing their jobs, she added.

Apart from helping the stricken musicians get whatever financial relief was available from both the Philippine and Hong Kong governments, HKMU has also done its own lobbying to revive the entertainment industry.
Lo says musicians hope they can all go back to work in due time

Last week, Lo said she and her fellow HKMU officers met with Legislative Councilor Tommy Cheung who represents the catering industry, to appeal for help in getting live performances back in pubs and other public venues.

Lo said they were relieved when Cheung assured them of his help.


By this time, the outlook had gotten really grim for most, if not all, musicians in Hong Kong, she said.

Most hotels, including the big ones like the Peninsula and Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui, Grand Hyatt in Wanchai and the Marriott in Admiralty, had stopped live entertainment, leading to massive job cuts that affected even to the most seasoned musicians.
Another fallout came just last week, said Lo, when BB Jazz, which is located in the same building as the Covid-infected Insomnia bar, decided to lay off all its staff after holding off closure for nearly three months.

“Hopefully the resumption of live performances will convince the owner to reopen the club,” said Lo.

In due time, she also hopes the entertainment scene which Hong Kong used to be famous for, will come alive again.

In a further sign of normalcy, Disneyland is set to reopen after nearly five months, following Ocean Park’s example last weekend.

Hong Kong Book Fair, which has traditionally attracted thousands of visitors, will also open as scheduled on Jul 15.

Meanwhile, no new case of Covid-19 was reported today, keeping the total tally at 1,113. Yesterday, three imported cases were reported, involving residents who flew in from Russia and Indonesia.

Two of the patients, aged 10 and 47, were asymptomatic while the third, a 32-year-old woman who flew in from Indonesia, had fever, cough and no sense of smell.

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