Hong Kong’s protracted COVID-19 outbreak, and the tough public health restrictions enforced to curb the virus, has left swaths of the population struggling to make ends meet.
The damage to some sectors are as grave as they are glaring. Once busy districts are lined with empty restaurant lots, vacated by cafes and bars that have been forced out of business. The Peak tram runs with no tourists aboard and along Tsim Sha Tsui’s picturesque harborfront, there isn’t even a selfie stick in sight.
For the city’s performing industry, which has been equally hard hit by the pandemic, the ruin isn’t quite so visible. With events canceled and shows postponed, the tens of thousands who make a living on stage have been stripped of a stable income.
Patrick Fung, 37, has been a magician for over ten years. He also runs a party planning company, at which business has all but tried up.
“We need people to gather at a venue so that we can perform and host a workshop,” Fung told Coconuts Hong Kong.
The government’s relief measures for the battered sector are hardly a lifeline. Only those whose events at Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) venues or “other commonly used legitimate arts venues” are canceled are eligible to apply for the subsidy.
Unsatisfied with the scheme, Fung said around 500 representatives from the performing industry wrote a petition to authorities asking that they relax the scope of eligibility—but to no avail.
“A lot of us in the performing industry cannot even get a penny from their subsidy scheme,” Fung said.
As the coronavirus continues to batter Hong Kong, performers like Fung have little choice but to wait out the storm. Despite the hardship, he says he has no regrets about his chosen career path.
“I want to be a magician because I like bringing happiness to others, and I want to do something that I like to do,” he said.
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