Hundreds of Hongkongers sporting face masks pulsated under strobe lights at a renowned indie club for the final time last week as cancellations by performers because of the coronavirus have forced the venue to close. The music house known as Hidden Agenda: This Town Needs (TTN) opened its doors in 2009 and quickly attracted a loyal crowd of young locals to one of few independent venues for live indie music in the city. More recently, the club in the Yau Tong industrial area in Kowloon drew supporters of anti-government protests that have rocked the city. They would often chant common protest slogans between song breaks at TTN. But in recent weeks, international bands and artists such as H.J. Freaks, Nervosa and Crown The Empire cancelled performances along with many others because of travel restrictions following the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, co-founder Joshua Chan said. “I think we put the safety of the artists and audience as our first priority,” Chan said. TTN has made almost no income over the past two months but has still had to pay HK$320,000 (US$41,000) in monthly rent and other expenses for the space, Hui Cheng-wo, the other co-founder, said. At last Thursday’s farewell event, more than 600 people were temperature checked and forced to sanitise their hands before being permitted entry to the club. All were wearing some form of face protection, as were the band members who rocked on stage. TTN’s closure marks the end of a troubled existence. The club moved location several times because of problems getting a licence as a live music venue and was also beset by problems with visas for visiting bands , leading to police raids at one point and Hui being arrested in 2017. In 2018, the owners spent two months and a seven-figure sum kitting out the Yau Tong venue to avoid the problems it faced at Hidden Agenda’s previous incarnations. “What we’re doing here is a totally different approach,” Chan had said ahead of the launch in 2018. “We’re getting all the licences, working with all the departments. Now we know how hard it is. We have done a lot of reports and testing with a lot of structural engineers and architects. Because we’re the first users, we get to do everything: the stage, the electrical supply, the ventilation – they’re all customised for this use. “Otherwise it would have been quite hard to get all the licences. But there’s no design here – everything is based on the licensing requirements. And the government doesn’t really have a concept of what a live house is. They have rules for a restaurant, or for a bar, but it’s neither of those.” Now, TNN is among thousands of businesses including tourism and retail firms that are struggling to survive as locals stay at home and away from public areas. A partial closure of Hong Kong’s border with the mainland to prevent the spread of the virus has also reduced visitors to a trickle. “We don’t really have a plan B how to cope … when something like coronavirus happened we had no choice but to shut down for now,” Chan said. Hong Kong has been in a recession for at least three quarters. The fallout from the coronavirus, which has killed two people in Hong Kong and infected more than 90, comes after months of the often violent student protests that have further battered the city’s economy. The Hong Kong government pledged cash handouts to residents and tax breaks for business in its annual budget last week to soften the blow, but that will also put added strain on weakening public finances. The support measures are not expected to arrest the downturn in the Asian financial hub, analysts said, although they will provide households and companies with some relief.