Hong Kong police have arrested a woman in charge of a restaurant in Sheung Wan and fined 16 diners for flouting social-distancing rules after they attended a birthday party there.
Officers from Central district raided the site on Queen’s Road Central near Ladder Street at about 5pm on Saturday. Sixteen people, aged between 21 and 40, were given fixed penalty tickets of HK$5,000 (US$639) each for violating a two-person public gathering limit.
A police spokesman said two men, aged 33 and 40, had also failed to use the “Leave Home Safe” risk-exposure app upon entering the venue.
The 36-year-old woman from Argentina was arrested for allegedly allowing the event to take place. She was later released on bail pending further investigation and must report back to police next month.
The force has urged the public to follow social-distancing rules and exercise caution amid the ongoing fifth wave of infections in the city, adding that social activities and crowded places should be avoided.
Police said they would step up inspections to ensure catering venues were complying with regulations.
In a similar event in early January, 14 officials and 20 lawmakers were among some 200 guests who attended the 53rd birthday party of Witman Hung Wai-man, a delegate to the national legislature, despite the restriction on large gatherings.
The event in a Wan Chai Spanish tapas bar and restaurant caused an uproar and led to the resignation of Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the results of a government investigation.
The birthday bash took place just before tougher social-distancing rules were imposed, and the city was racing to contain the spread of the Omicron variant in the community.