Since the very first cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Hong Kong earlier this year, the city has seen its citizens, private businesses and public sectors all come together and work tirelessly round the clock to keep everyone as safe and everything functioning as smoothly as possible.
Hong Kong has so far been able to keep the number of confirmed cases relatively stable, and private venues remain open for business, not least because Hongkongers have been creatively and proactively using workarounds and offering innovative solutions since the onset of the outbreak.
Small businesses, especially those in the food & beverage sector, have taken especially creative measures to ensure that their guests can continue to have a safe and pleasant meal out. Some local diners, like Kam Ka Lok cha chaan teng in Sham Shui Po, have taken to installing clear plastic partitions on top of communal tables to give diners their own personal space and to prevent unwanted transmissions from messy neighbors while they eat. The idea has proven quite popular, and many local restaurants have since adapted this innovative approach.
Kowloon City congee shop Tim Choi Kee Hong Kong Food was one of the establishments that has hopped on the plastic partition bandwagon. On top of this, the restaurant also checks the temperature of all its diners, and has installed four UV-C lights at the restaurant to help with general sterilization. The restaurant now hands out sterilized chopsticks to diners individually, rather than leaving chopsticks in a communal container at the centre of the dining table. “These measures are 100 percent approved by our customers,” says owner Tim Choi Kee. “Everyone welcomes them, saying they feel much more assured with them in place.”
Local desserts shop Kung Wo Beancurd Factory, also in Sham Shui Po, has thought outside the box and designed some beautiful paper envelopes to distribute to customers for easy face mask storage while they dine. “We decided to give out envelopes because many customers have already spent a fortune to buy the face masks,” says Renee So, Kung Wo proprietor. “We had once seen a diner who dropped his mask on the floor, and he was devastated. We want our customers to dine at ease, so we started giving out envelopes to support each other.” Besides the envelopes for customers, Kung Wo also provides its staff with masks, gloves, and hand soap.
Similarly, larger restaurant chains like hot pot specialist The Drunken Pot have looked to alternative ways to soothe their customers’ concerns. The restaurant now offers single mini-sized hot pot vessels so guests no longer have to share cooking broths with each other. Social distancing rules are also in effect, with each table set at least 2 meters apart. Wet sanitary wipes and disposable tableware are also made available to diners.
Japanese shabu shabu establishment On-Yasai has implemented equally stringent measures for its guests, from using room dividers to separate different groups of diners, to installing air purifiers on the premises. The digital menus that are used to place orders are disinfected after each use, and germ-prone surfaces like ice-cream machines and door handles are disinfected every hour. Temperature taking and face mask wearing are the default requirements before entry is permitted.
Across the harbor in Wan Chai, pastry cafe Bakehouse is taking coronavirus very seriously. “As a pre-emptive measure, we’re taking everyone’s temperature at the door, and people are very understanding,” says Gregoire Michaud, owner. “To us it’s very important to be part of the prevention process and to care for our community. If the community is doing well, we’re doing well.” Bakehouse also sources masks for its staff and trains them to properly put on this protective layer. On top of this, the restaurant has hired a cleaning and sterilization company to conduct regular cleanses on its premises besides the restaurant’s own daily procedures. External couriers who deliver for Bakehouse are also mandated to wear face masks when retrieving orders. “As a team, we are accountable to our staff and to our guests,” Michaud explains. “We have established a policy that applies to all, no matter who you are. Safety first!”
This story was based on some information provided by HKTB.