The first confirmed case of Coronavirus in Hong Kong was on the 23rd of January 2020.
Today, nearly 2 months after the fact, we are experiencing part of the second wave of infections due, for the most part, to "returnees", all the folks who rushed back to Hong Kong, before the spread of the virus got out of hand where they were sheltering abroad, in Europe, the US, because of their initial fears of getting the virus in Hong Kong!
Many of the returnees came straight off a plane and headed to a gym or the crowded night life district of Lan Kwai Fong, go figure, the numbers spiking yet again has something to do with these healthy, hearty, silent two legged petri dishes not practicing social distancing or self-quarantine!
So whats the end result?
We are experiencing record low turn out to the restaurant, understandable in this time of concern for social distancing and decreasing chance of exposure. My concern, beyond the numbers, is for the safety of the team.
We have chosen to close the shop for the time being, and please let me explain why we chose this position, difficult as it has been to come to the decision.
Oftentimes its easy to just put the importance of making money above the health and welfare of the staff. We have one team mate who is pregnant and one with a underlying thyroid condition, so as the numbers rose, I immediately took the decision to keep them home, refrain from coming to work for two weeks, to self-quarantine. The rest of the team are heading to the A&E tomorrow in the hopes we can get tested for the Coronavirus and then armed with the facts, we make a decision from there whether to reopen the shop or to self-quarantine the entire team.
Its not been easy to figure where to get tested when you don't have symptoms. It seems almost a luxury to head out there to test when asymptomatic, but we are in an industry that keeps us all at the front line in this epidemic, hardly the people in hospitals, but we certainly come into contact with a lot of people and we are cleaning their plates, cutlery, tables, and even their used dining napkins and used tissues (yes, people still leave those on the plates).
We can mask up, glove up, use disinfectant till the cows come home, and anyway we are washing our hands after every contact with these above mentioned items, its still a scary place to be while we remain unsure of our collective health as a team and ensuring public safety as well.
We cannot control the situation of every customer possibly being an asymptomatic carrier, one thing we can control is whether or not we are all in the clear and safe to serve. Once we have that solid baseline we can ensure that hygiene protocol is followed by all staff and we can provide assurance to our customers that they are in a place where all the staff are Coronavirus negative on top of us disinfecting the premises frequently each day.
Of course, the safest bet would be to completely shut the shop, but in an economy where jobs are hard to come by, where people are taking pay cuts and unpaid leave, and in an economy that has already been in recession from 6 months of political upheaval, we are left with little choice when landlords refuse to put a hold on rent, where government rates on rental properties still need to be paid...and where being open brings in money to cover all of that or at least part of that, is the only thing keeping many small, independently owned businesses from going under.
We are waiting on the government subsidy to help cushion the kick in the nads that has been what economists are calling the biggest crash since 2008...and well..that could buy us maybe 3 months of rent if we didn't have to pay anyone at all!
Well, lets just say at least we remain upbeat, the shop is closed as of today, we all go to try to get tested at a public hospital tomorrow, if they turn us away coz we are all asymptomatic, then we have to go the more expensive private route, which would cost an arm and a leg, so lets hope we get accepted at the public hospital!
Will keep you posted. And please, take care of yourselves, stay safe, focus on the good out there in the world, and remain optimistic that everything will slowly crawl back to normal, even if it takes a year!
We got this.
You know, I am kinda saying that more for myself than anyone! Lol.
My name's Lisa. I love to cook, I love to laugh, I love to write. I don't always believe I have the time for creating, and now I am going to work on simply going with the flow, with the food, the restaurant, the writing...and if I can, for one moment, spread a little joy along the way, well, its worth the effort.