The Penny’s Bay fear

January 12, 2022 12:02
Penny's Bay quarantine centre Photo: RTHK

Good times don't last but bad times don't stay forever either.

Spare a thought for the Hong Kong restaurants and bar operators. After a happy December, they are back to dinner ban that happened the same time last year.

Another round of relief funds, the kindergarten suspension and the likely partial work-from-home arrangement for government officials all pointed to a familiar situation. It seems things are unlikely to resume to normal before the Chinese New Year even if we can contain the Omicron spread at low level.

No gym. No massage. No manicure. We have already seen a less crowded Hong Kong. This is set to last at least until 20 January pending the government’s next announcement on whether it would continue to tighten social gatherings.

With luck, the government would consider to relax in six weeks when the vaccine bubble expansion plan is put into effect in public areas such as restaurants and other entertainment venues - where only people vaccinated will be allowed.

Even Victoria Park has become quiet, partly because of an increase in reported virus cases this month, but more because people are scared to be spending the happy Chinese New Year holidays in Penny’s Bay’s quarantine centre.

With God’s grace, the quarantine period was just shortened this week to two weeks instead of three, thanks to the many high-profile politicians and senior government officials who ignored the basic social distancing rules and ended up in Penny’s Bay.

In many ways, Hong Kong people should be thankful to live in this part of the planet with relatively low infection rate in the last six months. The nearly five-month zero infection put life back to mostly normal except we still could not travel to places we want to go without quarantine.

Still we are living in the grave fear of getting locked up in Penny’s Bay if we are deemed to be close contacts of COVID-19, which seemed difficult to avoid unless we stay home.

Even so, we have to stay tuned to find out if our residence would be subject to enclosure and all residents are to undergo mandatory testing.

This kind of worry was less found in other countries despite their new COVID cases casually hitting six-digit or even seven-digit per day. Just this morning we heard half of the Europe population would be infected in two months.

But what’s the big deal? The death rate is lower and the harm is less severe despite it is more contagious than the flu. All hopes that the high vaccination rate and herd immunity would mean the COVID scare would be gone in the Year of Tiger.

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EJ Insight writer