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Live music, dancing, stopped after new surge in coronavirus cases

22 November 2020

By The SUN

 

Bars in popular nightspots like Lan Kwai Fong will again fall silent starting today 

The Hong Kong government has again imposed a ban on live music and dancing, after a cluster of coronavirus cases occurred in the Starlight Dance Club in Wan Chai.

The new restrictions which take effect today, Nov 22, will last for five days, or until Nov 26.

At the same time, the planned travel bubble with Singapore which was originally due to start on Monday, Nov 23, was put off for two weeks because of the surge in local cases, most of which had no known source.

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The arrangement would have allowed travelers from either city to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine on the other end as long as they test negative for Covid-19 before departure.

But the two sides agreed that the arrangements for the travel bubble would automatically be suspended for 15 days if either side reported an average of five or more local cases per day with no known source, for one week.

The recent spike in cases in Hong Kong, mostly with unknown source, appear to have scuppered the deal, at least for now.

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One of the cases that could not be traced to a previous infection was the index patient in Starlight Dance Club, who tested positive on Friday, along with 10 others.

In just two days, the total number of cases linked to the club had ballooned to 32, and health officials fear there could be many more, as teachers and students who went to the club visited 13 others during the incubation period.

Meanwhile, the re-imposition of the ban on live music was met with dismay by Hong Kong musicians, who mostly just got back to work starting on Oct 30, when the government decided to further relax its restriction on gatherings in pubs and clubs.

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Before this, the musicians were off-work for about six months, starting from when an outbreak of Covid-19 cases that began in Insomnia bar in late March caused the authorities to close down all bars, and along with it, live music.

The musicians, as well as bar owners, had hoped the new restrictions would cover only dancing and not live music, which does not necessarily involve musicians getting close to patrons and other people inside the venue.

According to a press statement by the Food and Health Bureau, the following will take place immediately:

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(1) Live performance and dancing must not be allowed in any catering premises (including bars or pubs) as well as clubs or nightclubs.

(2) Premises (commonly known as party rooms) that are maintained or intended to be maintained for hire for holding social gatherings must be closed.

Last week, the government already clamped down on what it called an increase in mask-off gatherings by requiring restaurants and bars to close down at midnight, from the previous 2am.

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In addition, restaurants were put back to sitting only four people to a table, and the bars, to two to a table. Both premises could only fill up to 50% of their normal capacity.

In announcing the new restrictions, the FHB said: "We urge the public to stay at home as much as possible, go out less often unless necessary, and avoid dining out and unnecessary social activities (including private gatherings, in particular mask-off activities or group gatherings in indoor premises).  At this key moment when the epidemic situation is worsening, the public should fight the epidemic together without letting down one's guard and take every possible step to prevent the virus from continuing to spread in the community.”

“Maintaining good personal and environmental hygiene at all times is key to prevention of infection and the spread of the virus in the community." 

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