After images of workers eating lunch underneath bridges and outside construction sites in the rain went viral, the government on Thursday walked back on a controversial dine-in ban that forbid restaurants from seating their customers.
But even before the short-lived policy was undone, dozens of churches and local businesses—from tutorial centers to currency exchange shops to a lingerie store—said on social media that they would open their doors for anyone needing a space to eat in peace.
While many in Hong Kong are working from home given the recent surge in virus cases, hundreds of thousands with jobs in cleaning, construction, public transportation and delivery services don’t have the luxury of choice. Neither do they have an office to go to,—a reality that Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung seemed oblivious to when he advised that people can take their to-go lunch back to their workplace to eat.
On Wednesday, netizens created a Facebook page called HKlunchtime to collate information and invite others to share details of businesses offering a lunch spot via a Google form. The page, which has existed for just about a day, already has over 20,000 likes.
Haïr La Forme, a hair salon located in Tsim Sha Tsui, wrote on their Facebook that people are free to bring their lunch and eat there. A picture they shared showed salon chairs arranged in semi-private booths, giving to-be diners both privacy and appropriate social distance.
各位香港人由明天開始下晝時段 我哋會免費開放俾有需要嘅人上黎食飯我地有房 有足夠嘅空間確保大家健康同埋衛生我哋有食水 紙巾飲品 冷氣 洗手間免費提供唔好怕醜有需要就直接上嚟啦我哋每天同埋每次有人食完飯之後都會全面消毒希望大家都可以放心食個飯💛尖沙咀金巴利道45號金巴利廣場5樓全層※每人派一個口罩😎#尖沙咀午飯#麻煩大家幫手Share
“Don’t be shy. Just come if you need to la,” the salon wrote, adding that they also provide water, napkins, bathrooms and the holy grail of a Hong Kong summer—air conditioning.
Perhaps not the most conventional spot to sit down and have a meal, a lingerie shop, Romensa Wireless Bra in Sha Tin, said they would open their doors from noon to 2pm. The shop said it is “mini” in size and can allow not more than three people—one in the changing room, one at the cashier and one at the store front—at once.
#今日唔開心 唔明白點解搵啖飯食嘅打工仔要喺街痞喺度食飯😭 職業無分貴賤，養妻活兒就係真漢子！ 為頭家默默耕耘就係好女人！…
“Originally we had announced that our shop would close temporarily. But the owner has decided that for every day that the dine-in ban is in place, I will be back at work,” the post read.
“Please don’t mind that the store sells women’s and men’s underwear, don’t feel awkward,” it added.
A Chinese bone-setting clinic in Cheung Sha Wan is also becoming a makeshift dining room from noon to 3pm. Space is limited though—only two people maximum at a time.
7月30日至8月4日中午十二點至三點,如果搵唔到地方食飯嘅朋友可以帶你個飯盒嚟到我哋醫館，我哋免費提供地方及飲品, 齊心抗疫. 希望疫情快啲過去。人數上限為二人。請大家share 出去幫得幾多得幾多#長沙灣 #跌打 #骨傷科 #中醫 #星期日休息 #歡迎預約 #低頭族 #頸椎病 #肩周炎 #網球手 #媽媽手 #拗柴 #腰骨痛
In Sham Shui Po, a currency exchange center called Rich Bird wrote that it can offer “five bar stools,” water, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, and even masks for anyone who needs a new one if they’ve been caught in the rain.
Netizens left comments of gratitude. “A company with conscience. There are less and less of these now in Hong Kong. Thank you,” one wrote.
“The next time I need to exchange foreign currency, you will be my only choice,” another said.”
Before the government announced it would undo the dine-in ban and allow customers to eat in restaurants again, it said Wednesday evening that it would open community centers citywide to accommodate those needing a place to eat.
The abrupt u-turn on Thursday, while welcomed, sparked criticism of the government as many hit out at its poor decision-making and oblivion of the needs of the working class.
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