In all likelihood, early next week the Hong Kong government will extend the current restrictions in place to fight the pandemic. This means the city’s denizens will be forced to endure a very different kind of Christmas. Without the ability to gather to celebrate the festive season, or New Year’s Eve, Hongkongers now look to 2021 for some kind of reprieve from yet another wave, and yet another round of restrictions. Once again, fitness has found itself on the chopping block, as gyms and studios were forced to close down abruptly, much like in late summer when the third wave rolled through. On top of this is the closure of recreational facilities, sports venues, pitches, fields, golf courses, pools and workout areas across the city. With temperatures in the teens during the onset of winter, working out is a tough business no matter how you spin it. Hitting the trails means a jacket and warm clothes, the last bastion of exercise. The chances are it will be nearly two months before Hongkongers can return to their regular fitness routines, and they will have to endure a dreary holiday season without the ability to enjoy being with friends and family in any real respect. To somehow think this is a sustainable model is crazy, and asking them to endure this is too much. This city, and its residents, need a breather to end 2020, but it appears the government is going to ask them to take another one on the chin. One of the most striking things about Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s interview with the South China Morning Post was that she openly admitted she has no personal life. She works hard, all the time, and barely even has time to speak to her husband. It was like she took a certain amount of pride in her lack of work-life balance. She is stressed out beyond belief – and stressing us. Hong Kong’s gyms plead with government to reopen to save them Most Hongkongers don’t want to live like this. Lam may take pride in throwing herself into her job , but the average citizen wants reprieve from work, especially now that we are all mostly working from home again. Hongkongers were already some of the world’s most stressed out and overworked people. We were one of the first places to experience a rash of cases, dating back to February. This prolonged fight against Covid-19 is fast approaching the one year mark and everyone is tired, frustrated and downright exhausted. Normally, life’s daily stresses can be mitigated by fitness, exercise and sports. Hongkongers have embraced active lifestyles in a quest for work-life balance, much like the rest of the developed world. This means yoga, spin cycle, going for runs, hitting the gym, taking a studio class with friends. There’s also organised sports: rugby, field hockey, swimming, netball, golf, even ice hockey. You name it, Hongkongers are playing it. The studies that back up the immense benefits of exercise and sports for people young and old, no matter their level of fitness, are so plentiful it is beyond common knowledge. If you don’t exercise, you can’t be happy, and you won’t enjoy your life. Children are no different, kids now stuck at home, driving their parents mad, wasting away months of key development time when they should be outdoors playing, having fun and participating in sports. Lam may take pride in saying she has one of the toughest jobs, and thus can’t even take a break to play some tennis or do some hot yoga. But she is alone when it comes to other leaders. American presidents are famous for hitting the links , and most leaders of the free world take regular holidays and have hobbies or pastimes, even during trying times. All work and no play may be fine for Lam, but asking Hongkongers to follow her lead and simply stay home, work long hours in their tiny flats and not socialise or exercise, shows just how out of touch she is. Her zealous quest for zero cases, and her willingness to forgo any logic or common sense to achieve it, only hurts the people she says she is looking out for. Hong Kong fitness fans try out special pods for IRIS festival Hongkongers once again confronted with contradictions. Head to any shopping centre and you will see thousands of people breaking social distancing rules. But head out to a place like Bowen Road, which is secluded and surrounded by nature, and you will find elderly workout equipment taped up with a notice telling people they will be fined if they use it. This is a pretty clear indication of where the government’s allegiances really lie. Sure, go shopping, spend money, but don’t you dare think about working out to stay in shape and maintain a sense of livelihood. There is also an image of people packed together like sardines in tiny flats, unable to go outside due to restrictions. Why on earth anyone thinks this is a good idea, rather than allowing them to get out, stay fit and healthy, to fight the virus, is mind-boggling. Hongkongers, who can, are fleeing to the mainland in droves , willing to endure two weeks of quarantine to escape the relentless restrictions. This is a pretty clear sign of just how fatigued the locals are. Quality of life is in question here, and if we are forgoing our own happiness, well-being and mental health to fight a virus which seems to have no end, what are we really achieving?