The need for more resolute intervention by the Hong Kong government has loomed larger as the new wave of Covid-19 outbreaks shows no sign of slowing down. As the toughest yet health control restrictions came into effect and more evidence of loopholes in previous responses emerged yesterday, officials are under growing pressure to come up with more targeted measures, including financial support for the hardest-hit businesses. Unless decisive actions are taken to help speed up recovery, the urgency for another government bailout is obvious. The Hong Kong Retail Management Association’s fresh appeal for rent relief echoes the clamour by restaurants for government subsidies. The brief respite following the March outbreak can hardly cushion the shock waves radiating across an ailing economy. The catering sector warns of a HK$7 billion (US$1.16 billion) loss in revenue in August should the ban on dine-in services, extended from 6pm onwards to around the clock for seven days, last for a few more weeks. Many eateries have simply temporarily shut down as takeaway orders can hardly cover operation costs. A quick recovery for retailers has also proved elusive. The provisional value of sales in the first five months of this year plummeted by 34.8 per cent year on year to HK$134.36 billion (US$17.34 billion). The outlook is further dampened by the government’s advice for people to stay home to help curb infections. The plea for landlords to instead charge rent by revenue for a year is a step worth considering. City’s landlords urged to offer rental lifeline to retailers hit by pandemic This can throw a lifeline to 60,000 outlets with a workforce of 260,000 and avoid economic losses from vacant shops and the knock-on effects on other industries. The government, to its credit, has already offered several rounds of support to businesses, the latest being a multibillion-dollar wage subsidy scheme open to all industries. Generous as it is, the initiative is a broad-brush approach to prevent job losses rather than targeting individual sectors. It only helps pay part of the wages, but not rents and other operating costs. The health chief’s U-turn on loopholes in exempting aircrew and seafarers for quarantine has reinforced the perception of businesses hurt by the government’s inadequacies and strengthened the case for more subsidies. Separately, the revelation that no meetings were held with expert advisers over the past two weeks has raised more questions about the official approach. The new analyses tracking the infections show the quarantine exemptions are to blame for the July outbreak. Whether the numbers have peaked remains to be seen. But with the figures surging by another 106 yesterday to a total of 2,885, the seventh straight day of a three-digit rise, the need for a more targeted and decisive response cannot be ruled out.