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Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

Gulps of concern about eatery cleaners

Gulps of concern about eatery cleaners

Modest-sized eateries will face difficulties in designating workers to handle newly imposed anti-virus control measures, a catering association claimed yesterday.
From today until March 17, specific staff must be responsible for clearing used utensils and cleaning tables.

If that is not feasible, eateries must ensure that workers performing cleaning duties must adopt measures such as using hand sanitizer, washing hands or changing gloves before other duties.

The latest requirements came as the Mr Ming's Chinese Dining cluster at K11 Musea in Tsim Sha Tsui hit 50 infections as of yesterday.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, pointed out that most small and medium-sized eateries are already forced to operate with reduced staff levels.

"They have to check if customers use the LeaveHomeSafe app or register personal information," he said yesterday. "Then they also have to take orders, clean and wait tables as well as help with checkouts."

Wong said authorities had overlooked the difficulties in executing the latest requirements for small restaurants, which make up 98 percent of the SAR's 16,000 eateries.

Restaurants are also required to increase their premises' air change rate to at least six times per hour starting from the middle of the month.

That came after government adviser Yuen Kwok-yuen said airborne transmission of Covid-19 amid poor ventilation could have led to the cluster at Mr Ming's.

If the ventilation rate is not feasible then eateries will have to install proven air-purifying facilities.

Wong said it was nearly impossible for all eateries to know if they have increased their air change rate, and that only around 40 have managed to do so.

From a scientific perspective, Wong said, an air change could even facilitate the spread of the virus.

Wong said eateries that could not increase their air change rate may have to resort to air-purifying facilities, which could cost thousands of dollars.

"The government should provide clearer guidelines and financially support the sector in complying with new requirements," he said.

Meanwhile, the SAR counted 14 more Covid-19 infections yesterday, including eight from unknown sources, taking the total tally to 11,047.

One of them, a 30-year-old man, was linked to the Mr Ming's cluster.

The man, who lives in Cheung Fung Mansion in Tai Kok Tsui, developed symptoms on Tuesday. He stayed at the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui during the incubation period.

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