The government’s latest tightening of its anti-coronavirus measures affects us all. But in the heat of the middle of the day on Wednesday most would have felt sorry for the plight of construction and other outdoor workers left without a decent place to eat by the new blanket ban on dining in at restaurants. Images of them scrambling for places to open their lunchboxes flooded television and social media. They did Hong Kong no credit and left a feeling that something is just not right. Unlike office staff who planned to take their meals back to their workplaces, workers huddled under sun and rain on footbridges, staircases or even roadside kerbs outside restaurants from which they had just bought their takeaway meals; some used car trunks as their dining table. The scenes did not impress observers, to say the least. Many lamented that they showed bureaucrats and officials were out of touch. Insulated from real life in the comfort of their air-conditioned, taxpayer-funded offices, they are seen to have made decisions that showed no apparent idea of the city’s eating habits or the plight in which the dining ban would leave many outdoor workers. The chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, Wong Ping, told a radio programme that without a chance to rest and cool down after working in sweltering heat, some workers could be prone to heatstroke. The head of the Cleaning Service Industry Workers Union, Denny To, said many cleaners could take lunch inside refuse-collection points or even in the shelter of public toilets – hardly hygienic in a pandemic setting. Scenes that will now be repeated daily are a reminder that the community pays the price when government bungles its duty of keeping Hong Kong a safe place. Experts at least partly blame holes in our pandemic defences, such as the extraordinary latitude allowed aircrew and seafarers under quarantine regulations, for the recent surge in infections. It was this that prompted the total dining-in ban. On a broader issue, it does not help that Hong Kong is not known for public spaces in which people can enjoy an outdoor lunch. Word is that the government is thinking of opening sports grounds and community halls at lunchtime. That would make some difference.