No mahjong game under the fifth wave?

February 09, 2022 09:59
Photo: China Daily

Nothing is more fun than playing mahjong during the Chinese New Year when smart younger generations know how to lose money on the table to keep their parents happy.

Unfortunately, enjoying the rectangle-tile game won’t be as easy after the announcement of the toughest social distancing rules so far, which is going to bar cross-family gatherings of more than two households for the first time.

Depending on the modern family definition, a game of mahjong usually involves at least four players from more than two families.

It is exactly the kind of ambiguity that made the citizens unhappy as the government is trying in every way to limit their freedom amid its efforts to curb the spread of omicron, which has just hit a record of 625 cases in a day. The daily number is expected to exceed 1,000 cases this week.

Extreme times call for extreme measures. Barring cross-family gatherings is not uncommon in other countries such as Singapore during the toughest time but we also know the Lion City, like other western countries, is now practicing the “living with the virus” strategy.

How the government can exercise its rules on private premises is anybody’s guess. As such, Thomas Chan Chung-ching, the permanent secretary for food and health, said they will not take active enforcement action to check everywhere but it would take action if there were Covid infection cases stemming from cross-family gatherings.

That begs the question: how many Covid patients would come clean to expose whom they meet – unless they are real-life enemies?

To make things worse than skipping mahjong, Hong Kong people will see their hair salons and churches closed for at least two weeks in this difficult period. And if you are still unvaccinated, with the implementation of the first phase of the vaccine pass on February 24, you won’t be allowed to go to supermarkets and malls according to the latest “no jab, no entry” list.

That made people wonder whether it is wiser to live with the virus or stand firm in the implementation of dynamic zero policy.

Citizens are increasingly puzzled by the interpretation of dynamic zero policy but those who know how to play mahjong will probably understand the concept better.

According to a netizen, if you want to build your hands with bamboo tiles, you might want to throw away circle and character tiles. But unfortunately, after clearing them and achieving dynamic zero, you might still get these unwanted tiles again as the game continues.

Hong Kong had a blessed hand in the past two years, probably not so much because of the dynamic zero policy. But let’s hope we still have a good hand this year. Keep your faith – although you might still be a bit constrained before Easter!

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EJ Insight writer