Police Searched Restaurant for 1 Hour, Detained Diners for Identity Checks

With the Government introducing a series of new policies on combating COVID-19, eateries could now only offer four seatings per table at the most and each table shall be at least 1.5 metres apart. During the lunch hour today, 12 police officers were seen inside the restaurant Cafe Seasons located at Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan. Officers claimed they received complaints on the restaurant, then measured the distance between tables to see if it meets the law requirements. Diners were also prohibited from leaving the restaurant until their identification documents were recorded. The whole process took around 45 minutes before diners were allowed to leave. Diners claimed they were not satisfied with the attitude of police, suspecting their actions might had been directed against the restaurant. The police reminded the restaurant that tables should be well apart. However, no penalty tickets were issued.

The HKSAR Government announced 6 regulatory policies on eateries on 27 March, which include restaurants could only make available of half of their maximum seatings; tables shall be at least 1.5 metres apart or other segregation measures shall be applied; each table could not serve more than 4 persons; all personnel inside the restaurant shall wear face masks at all times except for while eating; every person’s body temperature shall be measured prior to entry; and restaurants shall provide disinfecting hand sanitisers.

About 12 police offers were seen inside Cafe Seasons, which locates at 88 Des Voeux Road Central during lunch hours. Police claimed that complaints were received that tables in the restaurant were not 1.5 metres apart, then ordered diners not to leave the restaurant while recording their identification documents. Some diners questioned the reasons for such recordings whereas the police responded they were just worried that someone might had violated the quarantine law.

In addition, police officers used rulers to measure distance between tables. The whole process took around 45 minutes until diners were allowed to leave. However, no penalty tickets were issued and the police only reminded the restaurant that tables should be well apart.

Ms CHUNG, manager of Cafe Seasons said that this was the first time that police were seen in the restaurant after the new regulatory policies came into effect. “Police officers were talking loudly until the white shirts (sergeants) arrived. They were much more polite, they said that they won’t charge us this time but they will in the future if no improvements are made.” She then claimed, “We already stopped offering some seatings, but they (the police) said that a large table (made up of several adjoining tables) was counted as multiple tables. I think the new policies are not clear enough, they are a bit ambiguous.” CHUNG also said that the restaurant started recording diners’ body temperatures prior to entry much more earlier before the policies were introduced, “Disinfecting hand sanitisers were provided on each table, we would also provide hot water for diners to wash their cutleries.”

Mr LAM, diner of the Cafe Seasons suspected that the actions took by the police might had been directed against the restaurant. He claimed, “There were 12 police officers checking on a 2000 feet-large restaurant, wasn’t that a bit unnecessary? Of course it was totally unnecessary! Was there a criminal there or a burglary taking place? As a normal citizen I must say that the police was making a such a fuss out of it and they were only trying to get more overtime-work reimbursements (by conducting lengthy searches).”

Ms CHEUNG, also a diner of the restaurant said, “I was eating and all of a sudden the police came in and stopped everyone from entering and leaving. As some tables did not offer seatings, there was actually space between tables but I am not sure if it is 1.5 metres long.” CHEUNG felt the police caused inconvenience.

Another diner of the restaurant, Mr CHOW said, “It’s Central (the central business district in Hong Kong) here. The police was wasting my lunch hour. It was like Cafe Glory (a restaurant that publicly supports the anti-extradition movement), the police checked on them twice within half an hour.”

It is known that Cafe Seasons was owned by LAI Yiu Yan Ian, the second son of the founder of Next Digital Limited Jimmy LAI Chee-ying (a pro-democracy public figure).

Article 28 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong:
The freedom of the person of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable. No Hong Kong resident shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention or imprisonment.

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