Visitors to Hong Kong’s annual Food Expo will not be allowed to sample food because of the Covid-19 epidemic, organisers have said.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), which is behind the five-day event, said the restrictions were in place to accommodate the authorities’ anti-epidemic guidelines.

food expo
A woman at a booth offering samples of abalone at the Food Expo in 2019. Photo: GovHK.

In a press conference on Tuesday, the HKTDC’s Deputy Executive Director Sophia Chong said she believed that booth operators and visitors would understand that the arrangement was “for their safety.”

The Food Expo will be held at the Wan Chai Convention and Exhibition Centre from August 11 to 15. This marks the second consecutive year that sampling food at the fair will not be allowed owing to Covid-19.

Effect on business

Simon Wong, the president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said on a Commercial Radio program on Tuesday that the ban on eating at the expo last year affected businesses.

“In the past, a lot of booth operators would pass out samples of food and drinks to attract customers,” Wong said.

He said he hoped the HKTDC would reconsider the rule and set up a special zone in which visitors could eat any samples they had collected.

food expo
Visitors shopping at the Food Expo in 2021. Photo: GovHK.

Chong, however, said during the press conference later that day that the exhibition centre only permitted such arrangements for events that were “purely trade fairs,” and not for fairs open to the public, which would see significantly higher attendance.

Authorities said on Monday that spectators at Hong Kong’s rugby sevens tournament – making a comeback after a three-year Covid-19 hiatus – would not be allowed to eat, but would be permitted to drink, in the stands.

When asked by the radio host if this arrangement was unfair, Wong said that was “difficult to say,” but that he “did not know” if drinking in the Rugby Sevens stands would be “safer” than sampling food at the Food Expo.

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Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.