Latest specifications and directions in relation to catering business issued
under Cap. 599F, which take effect from 30 June 2022 to 13 July 2022
(the specified period)

Q1: According to the latest specifications and directions, customers are required to present to the premises operators the proof of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result obtained within 24 hours for due diligence checking before entering the relevant premises.  Under what circumstances will this requirement apply?
A1:

Starting from 5:00 a.m. on 16 June 2022, under the following circumstances, customers are required to present to operators of catering premises a photo showing the negative RAT result obtained within 24 hours for due diligence checking before entering the relevant area or premise:

  1. Customers of catering premises entering the bar/pub zones of the premises;
  2. Customers of bars/pubs entering the premises; and
  3. Customers of clubs/nightclubs entering the premises.

The customers shall mark on the RAT testing kit his/her name as well as the date and time of taking the test.  He/she shall take a photo of the testing kit and save it in his/her mobile phone for checking by the operators before entering the premises, and for inspection by authorised officers upon request.  For epidemic prevention reasons, there is no need to present the testing kit.  To avoid the consequences of a positive case, the RAT should not be conducted on the premises.

Operators of catering premises (including bars, pubs, clubs, nightclubs) must display a notice indicating the relevant information on the bars/pubs or the bar/pub zones.  For catering premises with a bar/pub zone, a floor plan showing the bar/pub zone must be displayed. 

The above new requirement above will not be applicable to customers not entering the bar/pub zone in catering premises.

Q2:

How can the operators of catering premises (including bars, pubs, clubs, nightclubs) ensure that the photo showing the negative RAT result is genuine?  Will enforcement officers check such records?

A2:

Enforcement officers will judge whether false statements have been provided by the customers.  There is no need to be overly concerned on the part of the premises operators if they can provide evidence showing that all reasonably practicable measures have been taken to comply with the relevant requirements.

Customers who fail to produce a negative RAT result may be issued with a fixed penalty notice.  For any omission of due diligence checks on the negative RAT results of the customers, operators of the premises will be held criminally liable and required to adopt corresponding measures to reduce the risk of transmission starting from the subsequent day, i.e. closure of the premises for 14 days.

Q3:

According to the latest specifications and directions in relation to catering business issued under Cap. 599F, what mode of operation should bars/pubs adopt?

A3:

During the specified period, bars/pubs may open subject to the compliance of relevant requirements and the implementation of relevant measures as follows:

Bars/pubs must be closed between 2:00 a.m. and 4:59 a.m. every day.  No more than four persons may be seated together at one table.  The number of customers must not exceed 75% of the seating capacity of the premises.  No live performance or dancing activity is allowed in the premises.

All staff involved in the operation of the premises must meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements under the Vaccine Pass.  They must undergo a COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RAT) once every three days and obtain a negative result before entering the premises for work.  They are required to keep on their mobile phone for three days a photo of the negative RAT result obtained on the relevant work day or on any of the two days immediately preceding the relevant work day (marked with the name of the staff member and the date of taking the test) for checking by the catering premises operators when reporting to work and for inspection by authorised officers upon request. 

Bars/pubs will continue to implement the two requirements on LeaveHomeSafe and Vaccine Pass:

  1. Dine-in customers must scan the venue QR code using the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app on their mobile phones/other mobile devices before entering the premises; and
  2. All persons entering the premises must comply with the vaccination requirements applicable under the Vaccine Pass, except under exempted scenarios.
Q4: Eligible catering business may decide to operate as a bar/pub.  Please explain in details.

A4:

A catering premises holding a liquor licence (with bar endorsement) may decide to operate as a bar/pub.  The choice is taken to have been made after the operator has displayed a notice according to the specified specifications at the entrance of the premises.  The mode of operation, once decided by the operator, cannot be changed during the specified period.  The operator must also comply with the requirements and restrictions applicable to the mode of operation (including the maximum number of persons allowed per table).

If only a small part of the catering premises operates as a bar/pub, the operator must display at the entrance of the premises a floor plan drawn to scale, showing the area and location of the bar/pub zone. A template of the notice can be downloaded from the thematic website of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) via the following link:

Q5:

Are live performances and dancing activities permitted in bars/pubs and clubs/nightclubs?

A5:

No, live performances and dancing activities are not permitted in catering premises (including bars/pubs) and clubs/nightclubs during the specified period.

Generally speaking, "live performance" implies that performers and persons present at the same venue simultaneously have the opportunity to meet and interact.  Whether an individual activity constitutes a “live performance” is determined on a case-by-case basis having regard to the arrangement of the activity as a whole, the contact and interaction between the performers and the persons present, the relevant facts and individual circumstances.  

If a disc jockey (commonly referred to as a DJ) operating audio equipment is, on his/her own, playing background music inside a DJ room that is separate from the seating area, and there is neither contact nor interaction physically with the persons in the seating area, such act is generally not regarded as a “live performance”.  On the contrary, if the DJ concerned and the persons in the seating area communicate and interact with each other in any form on-site, this may constitute a "live performance".

Q6:

According to the latest specifications and directions in relation to catering business under Cap. 599F, what mode of operation may a bar/pub choose?

A6:

Upon commencement of the specified period, a catering premises may decide to operate as a bar/pub or as a business that mainly provide meals.  If the premises operates as a business that mainly provide meals, it must cease to operate as a bar/pub (i.e. exclusively or mainly used for the sale or supply of intoxicating liquors for consumption in the premises) and change to operate as a business that mainly provides meals (the drinks sold or supplied are mainly non-alcoholic and the liquors served are only incidental when having meals) during the specified period.  If the premises was required to take measures to reduce the risk of transmission due to previous non-compliance with the relevant requirements, it can only make the decision after those measures required to be taken have been completed.

Q7:

May a catering premises operate as a catering business during a certain time slot and as a bar/pub during another time slot within a 24-hour period, for example, as a catering business before midnight and as a bar/pub after midnight?

A7:

No.  The decision of a premises to operate either as a catering business or as a bar/pub applies to the whole specified period, regardless of time slots.  Once chosen, the mode of operation cannot be changed during the specified period.

Q8:

May a bar/pub choosing the mode of operation as a catering business sell any type of food as it wishes? 

A8:

No.  If a bar/pub chooses the mode of operation as a catering business , it is still subject to regulation under its food business licence or the relevant instrument.  The types of food that may be sold must be those permitted under its licence or the relevant instrument.

Q9: Under the existing requirements, can the staff members of bars/pubs adopt regular virus testing in lieu of COVID-19 vaccination?
A9: No.  Under the existing requirements, all staff in bars/pubs must comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements under the Vaccine Pass.  Staff members holding COVID-19 vaccination medical exemption certificates (medical exemption certificates) must undergo a polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19 once every seven days, and the sample of the test conducted must be taken through combined nasal and throat swabs (CNTS).  They must obtain a negative result before entering the catering premises for work.
Q10:

If a staff member working in a bar/pub is unfit to receive vaccination because of his/her health conditions, may he/she undergo regular testing once every seven days as an alternative?

A10:

When a staff member working on the premises is unfit to receive COVID-19 vaccination because of health reasons, the employer is required to collect and retain the medical exemption certificate of the staff.  The staff member must use the specified form available on the Vaccine Pass thematic website of the FEHD to make a declaration to the premises operator/employer for the above.  The form should be retained by the employer.  At the same time, the staff member has to undergo a polymerase chain reaction-based nucleic acid test for COVID-19 once every seven days and the sample of the test conducted must be taken through CNTS.  He/she must ensure that an SMS (mobile phone text message) notification containing the negative test result is obtained, and the record of each SMS notification is kept for 31 days.

Q11:

How should the person-in-charge of a bar/pub implement the LeaveHomeSafe and Vaccine Pass requirements?

A11:

The premises operator is required to use the QR Code Verification Scanner mobile app to scan the QR code of a customer’s vaccination record, medical exemption certificate or recovery record on the LeaveHomeSafe mobile app or displayed through other means (such as eHealth, iAMSmart, on paper or in photo).  If a customer does not follow the usual practice (i.e. scanning LeaveHomeSafe first to obtain the relevant QR code displayed as a blue code with a blue border on a green background) and shows the QR code of Vaccine Pass using the electronic vaccination record of LeaveHomeSafe (displayed as a blue code with a blue border on a white background) or other means mentioned above, he/she is required to scan LeaveHomeSafe separately before being allowed to enter the premises.

Q12

Can a bar/pub use the "alternative measure" for LeaveHomeSafe?  If yes, what are the details?  Who are the "specified persons"?

A12:

Yes.  Some persons may not be able to comply with the requirement of using LeaveHomeSafe due to a legitimate reason.  Therefore, three types of specified persons are allowed to complete a specified form as an alternative measure for complying with the requirement on using LeaveHomeSafe.  Specifically, the three types of persons are:

  • persons aged 65 or above or persons aged 15 or below; or
  • persons with a disability; or
  • other persons recognised by the Government or organisations authorised by the Government [Note]as eligible for the arrangement.

If the persons above are to enter a catering premises but are unable to use LeaveHomeSafe, they may register their personal information (including name, contact number and date and time of the visit) in a specified form as an alternative.  The specified form can be found on the Vaccine Pass Thematic Website (https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/vaccine-pass.html#form).  If a person registers his/her personal information in the specified form as an alternative to using LeaveHomeSafe, it means that this person is declaring himself/herself to be a specified person referred to above.  A person who makes false declaration or provides false information is guilty of an offence.

If a person aged 15 or below is accompanied by an adult who has complied with the applicable LeaveHomeSafe requirement (i.e. using LeaveHomeSafe or completing the specified form in accordance with the requirements as an alternative) when entering catering premises or scheduled premises, then the person aged 15 or below is not required to complete the personal information registration form.

[Note: The organisations are, namely, St. James' Settlement Integrated Services for Street Sleepers, the Salvation Army Integrated Services for Street Sleepers, Christian Concern For The Homeless Association, and the Society for Community Organization.]