A 23-year-old Hong Kong man has been sentenced to 7 days in prison after he admitted to operating a Tsim Sha Tsui bar illegally during the bar ban, making him the first to be convicted under the emergency measures since they were introduced last month.
The defendant, surnamed Lo, plead guilty at at Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court this morning to the offence of “not complying with instructions given by the Secretary for Food and Health” under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation.
Lo, whose job title has been reported as the chef, bar owner, and bar manager by various publications, was arrested on April 8 after he let customers in through the back door of the Thai Master bar on Haiphong Road for a birthday party.
Police said in a press conference last week that 64 customers, aged 14-60, were found packed into two rooms at the 1,000 sq ft bar. All 64 patrons have been issued with summons for violating the emergency regulation on gathering in groups of more than four people.
During mitigation, Lo said, “Times are tough, and over a dozen employees depend on me to make a living”. Acting Principal Magistrate Ada Yim dismissed Lo’s argument, and said he had risked the lives of both his staff and his customers by contravening government regulations.
Yim added that Lo’s choice to lock the bar’s front entrance and invite customers up via a back door clearly showed his intent to flout the regulation, and sentenced him to a week in jail.
The bust at Thai Master was part of a five-day police operation in Tsim Sha Tsui, during which officers also raided an unlicensed triad-linked bar on Hillwood Road and arrested 91 people.
Under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation, anyone found guilty of operating a catering business without complying with restrictions is liable to a HKD50,000 fine and six months’ imprisonment.
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