Chinese cuisine

Hong Kongers rush for haircuts and produce ahead of new curbs

Hong Kong residents lined up outside hair salons and bought fresh vegetables on Wednesday, a day before tougher coronavirus restrictions come into effect as new daily cases in the city soar to more than 1,100.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday that places of worship and hair salons must close from Thursday until at least February 24, when a ‘vaccine pass’ will be rolled out. which will only allow vaccinated people to visit places such as shopping malls and supermarkets. .

In an unprecedented move, she also said private gatherings will be limited to no more than two households.

“It’s a shame that hair salons are being told to close. In fact, salons have always adopted many measures, such as wearing masks, since the start of the pandemic and it should be safe, ”said Alan Fong, who was waiting outside a hair salon in the Wan Chai district.

Hong Kong has aligned itself with mainland China’s “zero-COVID” policy, which aims to totally eradicate epidemics, even as many other countries change their approach to living with the virus.

This strategy means that authorities often take drastic measures such as locking down residential developments for mass testing when positive cases are detected, imposing strict quarantine requirements on travelers and ordering businesses to close.

An outbreak among truck drivers transporting vegetables from China to Hong Kong has prompted authorities to impose strict testing measures and quarantine some drivers, sending prices for fresh produce skyrocketing.

“There is no supply. Even if there is, the import cost is high and we have to sell at high prices,” said trader Choy Kam-hing.

Choy said the price of choy sum, a popular vegetable in Chinese cuisine, had doubled.

Authorities have pleaded with residents to get vaccinated and avoid going out, while ramping up testing capacity and ordering tests for anyone considered close contact with the city’s thousands of cases.

“I think this whole test is pointless. Everyone is very busy with their lives and there are so many untraceable cases, but we have to be tested repeatedly,” said Bosco Wong, a kitchen worker who was tested on Wednesday after a colleague was found. positive for the virus. “I think this is all such a waste of time.”

The city’s decision to follow a ‘zero-COVID’ approach has drawn criticism from businesses, expats and local residents, who complain the harsh restrictions have impacted their lives.

“I’ve been troubled by the pandemic for a long time and I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it,” said Judy Lau, who was getting tested at a mobile testing station after a positive case was found in her apartment building.

“I don’t understand government policies. Pandemic waves come and go and it has seriously affected my mental health.

– By Alice Fung and Janice Lo, Associated Press