Hong Kong Government support for the Hospitality Industry. 香港特別行政區政府應全力支持香港餐飲業.
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Dear Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,
We are a group of independent business owners, managers, and employees of hospitality operations who make Hong Kong one of the most vibrant dining cities in the world. Over the past weeks and months, we have collectively served tens of thousands of guests who continue to support our businesses despite the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong, and despite the risks of infection from COVID-19.
While we are thankful, and while their support has been in good faith, we have also put ourselves, our employees, and the families of our employees at tremendous personal risk. Few workers in Hong Kong are more vulnerable than employees of the hospitality industry where close personal contact is unavoidable, as well as frequent contact with potentially contaminated objects such as money, credit cards, plates & cutlery, glassware, etc. And few businesses are more vulnerable than ours. Can you imagine Hong Kong, which ranks 7th for the Most Michelin Starred City in the world, without our prized restaurants as well as without our world-famous street food, and everything in-between? Let us be frank – we will not survive these challenging times without immediate decisive action from the Hong Kong Government. We believe in prioritizing the safety of our employees and our guests just as the Hong Kong Government believes in prioritizing the safety of its citizens and residents.
We thank you for your recent leadership with the announcement that arrivals from all foreign countries as of Thursday 19th March will be placed under home quarantine until further notice. We also thank you for the initiative of The Food Licence Holders Subsidy Scheme. Other recent measures have also been taken to protect public health and safety whereby although we applaud the HK Government for taking these decisive actions (and we will do our best to keep this Petition up-to-date with the most current information) unfortunately most of these measures place the Hospitality Industry under even greater duress.
So we must call upon you today to announce what you plan to do for our workers and business owners who are directly impacted by the Hong Kong Government's measures.
- Immediate support with emergency unemployment benefits to all hourly and salaried workers who have been furloughed during this crisis.
- Temporarily suspend the need for MPF contributions from both employees and employers – both employees and employers desperately need those funds now.
- Call for all Hong Kong Landlords to offer their hospitality business tenants a 40% reduction in rental fees until such time as COVID-19 is no longer an international emergency. We propose that Landlords who kindly agree to doing so should be subsidized by the Hong Kong Government accordingly.
- Call for all Hong Kong Landlords to guarantee their hospitality business tenants that they will not suffer rental increases for any leases that are due for renewal in 2020 or 2021. We know from our previous SARS experience that it took more than 18 months for the hospitality sector to recover from the impacts of SARS on businesses.
- Personal Salaries Tax and Company Tax to be reduced by 50% for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic period; i.e: commencing from January 1st 2020 until such time as the virus is no longer an international emergency.
As Hong Kong is a free economy, we are not suggesting that any of the above recommendations should be enforced by any changes in Hong Kong Government Law - all of these recommendations are simply a call for action.
Whilst we appreciate that a 40% decrease in rental prices is substantial and represents a significant financial impact to Landlords and/or the Hong Kong Government, there is evidence to support that a reduction of 20% just isn’t enough to keep restaurants in business as referenced in this article; https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3073947/covid-19-final-nail-coffin-hong-kongs-soho-bar-and-restaurant.
We have also heard from several sources that many shopping malls have offered retailers a 40% reduction in rent. Furthermore, with so many hospitality businesses operating with reduced hours (or closing down altogether) this has created an unprecedented degree of unemployment for those normally gainfully employed in the hospitality sector.
Financial Secretary Mr. Paul Chan, we are counting on you to support the hospitality workers of Hong Kong. Demonstrate to the Hong Kong people what those people with both power and means intend to do for people who have neither.
To date this Petition has been published in HK Tatler and Dimsum Daily and we'll be updating this Petition daily as we continue to gain momentum.
Hong Kong Hospitality Employers and Employees
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雖然我們很感激各方的支持，但不能否認我們把員工及其家人放在一個相當危險的位置。於現今這個非常時期，近距離的人與人接觸、經常觸碰客人用餐後有可能沾染病毒的餐具及信用咭等等，都令一眾餐飲服務業仝人處於極高的風險之中，還有其他服務業所面對的風險甚至更高。你能否幻想香港 — 這個於全球最多米芝蓮星級餐廳榜排行第七的城市，會失去我們的光彩？請容許我們直說：若香港政府不立即採取行動支持，我們整個餐飲服務業在這個充滿危機的困境下根本沒有生存空間。我們深信現時的首要任務是先確保我們的員工及客戶的安全，就等於香港政府把我們市民的安全放在第一位。
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