Residents have expressed their frustration at a decision by Hong Kong authorities to close all public beaches amid a Covid-19 outbreak, while some have called it necessary as a result of frequent social-distancing violations. On Wednesday, the government announced that all public beaches would close from Thursday until further notice to reduce social gatherings and the risk of virus transmission. The measure kicked in as the city confirmed 21,650 new coronavirus cases. A source had said the decision followed the circulation of posts on Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat which compared scenes of Shenzhen’s empty streets and closed subway stations with Hong Kong’s crowded beaches and malls. The posts went viral among mainland online users, who criticised Hong Kong’s looser social-distancing measures, contrasting these with the lockdown across the border. They blamed Hongkongers for contributing to the surge in cases on the mainland. Chinese tech hub hopes to resume production as Covid situation stabilises From 1pm on Thursday, all entry points into Repulse Bay, the city’s most iconic beach, and nearby Deep Water Bay on Hong Kong Island were closed off. The two locations remained deserted throughout the day, despite the warm weather and temperature of 24 degrees Celsius (75.2 degrees Fahrenheit). The Post observed a handful of people sitting on benches and dining at restaurants outside Repulse Bay, while the adjacent Deep Water Bay remained much emptier, with only a few people jogging or walking along a nearby road. Some residents said they believed the beaches were safe and should not be closed. “The beach is not too dangerous, why not let people swim and relax?” said Nancy Ng, a 65-year-old housewife, who regularly walks with a friend from Deep Water Bay to Repulse Bay. Others said the decision to close the beaches left children with fewer holiday activities after authorities had already brought forward the summer break for local schools as part of plans for a possible mass testing drive. “I’m so sad that the beaches are closed because there is no space for children to go. Even before the summer break they only had Zoom classes. Now there are no parks to go to, nor are there any activities to do,” said Carol, a grandmother of two children aged four and seven. She declined to give her last name. However, some residents said they had frequently seen beachgoers flouting social-distancing measures. “There were too many people at the beach before the closure. The ones with kids were better, but those who seemed to be single would mingle, drink beer and party at the beach … I rarely saw any government officials coming to enforce social-distancing rules,” said lawyer Bonnie Chan, who was taking a morning walk with her six-year-old son in Repulse Bay. But housewife Michelle Morris, who lives in the area, disagreed about the behaviour of visitors. “I never felt unsafe when I came down to the beach area. I would feel unsafe when I’m in tightly packed, crowded areas, but not at the beach,” she said. “People were just enjoying themselves in a safe manner.” “My family was previously planning to move out of Hong Kong after the school year, but this [beach closure] really cements the feeling that my family will not be staying,” Morris added. Hong Kong jobless rate hits five-month high of 4.5 per cent A restaurant manager in Repulse Bay also expressed concerns over the beach’s closure and uncertainty about the future of his business. “We had already stopped operating from Monday to Wednesday since March. As around 70 per cent of our revenue comes from beachgoers, I’m expecting to see a significant decrease in revenue from the beach closure,” said Mukilraj Gurung, manager of Thai restaurant Sip Song. “It is extremely unpredictable what’s going to happen. It’s like walking on thin ice as it is possible that our management might decide at the last minute to close the restaurant for a few weeks,” he added. The restaurant manager urged the government to set a clear date for when the beach would reopen to allow the business to “monitor the situation and try to adjust”.