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Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Sigh of relief as curbs ease

Diners, swimmers and people taking morning constitutionals in parks breathed a little easier with the further easing of social-distancing curbs yesterday.
Happier faces were the first order of the day at Chinese restaurants as people looking for a bite and a spot of conversation were finally able to have dim sum with friends now that the cap for each table went up to eight from yesterday.

That bustle was seen at London Restaurant in Mong Kok, with tables almost full as many elderly customers caught up with friends at yum cha.

One of them, Wong, made the most of things with five friends whom he has known for the better part of half a century in an outing that went on for over three hours.

Wong said they usually dined out once a week but they had to sit at two tables during the fifth wave.

"We just want to chat as it has been a long time since we sat at the same table," he said.

The day was even more special for another, Tang, and his four friends. "We haven't seen each other four two years," he said. Tang believes the pandemic will go away gradually and hopes social-distancing measures can be relaxed even further.

The reunions went down well with the restaurant's vice-general manager, William So Man-sing, who believed breakfast business would increase

5 to 10 percent.

So said there were more groups of five or six. Although the restaurant had prepared settings for tables that can seat eight, only two to three of them were occupied at noon.

So also said his restaurant has received more than 50 bookings for Mother's Day and expects turnover to be similar to last year.

Also going all out were people exercising out or visiting country parks now that masks are no longer mandatory for such activities.

A man who played basketball with friends said: "I feel more relieved as when I was wearing a mask, I had to sit down to rest often."

But some joggers were still wearing masks, with a man in his 70s saying he insisted on doing so as he still has concerns. "I have to think of my family, and to protect myself," he said.

Some parents went swimming with children as 15 beaches under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department reopened.

A man, Wong, said it has been quite a while since he swam and sunbathed so he's happy.

He also thinks infection risks at beaches are lower than in public swimming pools, and he will wear a mask when he's not swimming.

Hong Kong and Kowloon Life Guards' Union spokesman Nick Wu Kai-wing said the rationale for reopening only 15 beaches, half the LCSD total, is that there aren't enough lifeguards.

Wu said the sector needs 2,300 lifeguards, but it is facing a staff shortage this year as there has been no new blood during the pandemic.

The 38 public swimming pools can only reopen until next Thursday in a move Wu blamed on poor communication by the authorities.
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