Behind the mask

Percival Ho

My clients are middle-aged housewives who visit the boutique regularly. But since schools have been closed, many customers have stayed home to take care of their kids. Other customers are afraid to come to the store because we are located on the first floor of a building - meaning they have to ring a bell and go through several doors. People are afraid of getting infected with Sars by touching things. Business has fallen by 70 per cent.

To cope, I decided not to buy any new stock. I used to employ quite a few part-time staff to hand out flyers but now I have laid them off. At first I told them to tell people that I gave out free masks with each purchase, but that didn't seem to work. Besides, nobody wants a flyer that could be contaminated.

I worry about Sars every time a customer comes in. I wash my clothes right away when I get home and jump in the shower to scrub down. I try to cook at home as much as possible, but when I do get take-out, I choose carefully. I will only buy stuff that I can reheat at home to kill the germs. If I want a salad, I make it myself. I mop my flat with a bleach solution and use my steamer to steam the carpets and sofa to kill the germs.

I know the government is under lots of pressure, but it should try to be more decisive. Be like Singapore. Ask a bunch of experts what should be done and just do it. To control the disease, people need to have self-discipline. If they suspect they have it, people should get tested and quarantine themselves.

Hong Kong's image will not be hurt but I feel sorry for the mainland. People overseas will see it as the source of a disease which spread internationally. Hong Kong's only fault was it lacked experience dealing with an epidemic.

As told to Niki Law. If you have a story to share, contact [email protected]