The case against the Scout Association of Hong Kong, which was accused of breaching Covid-19 social distancing rules after holding a banquet with over 100 people in attendance in 2021, has been dropped.

Defunct pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily reported in late-March 2021 that the association hosted over 100 people at Yue Cuisine, a restaurant at the Hong Kong Scout Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui earlier that month, allegedly violating strict social distancing rules at the time.

Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts
Kowloon City Law Courts Building. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The association, three of its high-ranking staff, two restaurant operators, and the parent company of the restaurant, Central Treasure Lake Seafood Restaurant Limited, were initially charged over the incident.

The group was accused in April 2021 of violating Covid-19 rules. The case against the three senior scout association staff was later dropped in July last year.

On Tuesday, the prosecution told Magistrate Frances Leung that they would offer no evidence against the association or Chung Ting-him, a staff member of the restaurant, meaning that the case against them was dropped, the Witness reported.

Central Treasure Lake Seafood Restaurant Limited was fined HK$35,000, and Chan Kin-tung, the manager of the restaurant, was handed a HK$2,000 bind-over order, requesting him to maintain good behaviour for year.

Frances Leung.
Frances Leung. Photo: Judiciary.

According to the case presented to the court, CCTV footage showed that there were over 20 people gathering at the restaurant, with more than four people sitting at each table.

Social-distancing rules at the time limited the number of people allowed at a banquet to a maximum of 20 people, with no more than four people allowed per table.

Leung, when handing down the penalty, said that the gathering in question was of “a large scale.” While the magistrate noted that the chance of reoffending was low, Leung added that the restaurant was not alone in having suffered great losses during the pandemic, HK01 reported.

“We all understand that it was very difficult for the catering sector across Hong Kong,” the magistrate said.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.