The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) has announced that it will postpone the annual Hong Kong Book Fair, citing difficulties in implementing disease control measures amid the resurgence of locally transmitted coronavirus infections.
In a statement released on Monday, the HKTDC said that – in light of the latest epidemic situation – the Book Fair, set to run from Wednesday to next Tuesday, should be rescheduled. The large number of people involved would make it difficult to perform contact tracing and impose subsequent outbreak control measures, it said.
“The Government and the HKTDC understand the disappointment of the industry sector and exhibitors as well as the public with the postponement of this major annual event,” the council said, adding that the government has pledged to continue its support for the book fair using the Anti-epidemic Fund.
The HKTDC’s marquee event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre attracted a total of 980,000 visitors last year, during the peak of the anti-extradition bill protests. Three other expos to be held this week – the Sports and Leisure Expo, Education and Careers Expo and Entrepreneur Day – will be rescheduled as well.
The HKTDC did not mention the new event dates, but local media cited exhibitor sources as saying that the Book Fair may be held in September or December. The organiser added that ticket refund details would be announced later on the Book Fair website.
Hong Kong registered 38 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, among which 30 infections were locally transmitted. It brought the city’s tally to 1,469 confirmed cases. Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), admitted the outbreak was “getting a bit out of control,” as health authorities struggled to trace the source of 14 cases reported on Sunday.
On Monday morning before the HKTDC’s announcement, Jimmy Pang, spokesperson for the 2020 Hong Kong Book Fair Concern Group, said on RTHK’s Millenium that the book fair could be postponed to Christmas or Lunar New Year, 2021. He said more than 200 exhibitors said in a survey conducted by the group that they would rather bear the financial loss than risk a community outbreak.
Pang also criticised the HKTDC for not making an earlier announcement: “If you don’t make a decision as early as possible, booksellers are [in a dilemma]. Should they bring their products to the venue?”