The novel coronavirus COVID-19 arrived in Hong Kong on Jan 23, 2020 with the the first confirmed case from a mainland Chinese tourist who arrived by high-speed train.
As the cases increased in the coming days, rumours started flying of supply shortages. Crowds cleared supermarket shelves of rice and toilet paper. Coupled with the Chinese New Year holiday, retailers struggled to restock their shelves.
While officials tried to quell the rumours and business leaders reassured abundant supplies, line-ups continued when stores tried to restock their shelves. A line had formed to buy toilet paper at this supermarket.
Sanitizer and face masks are also hot commodities. Huge crowds lined up for hours to obtain the small quotas available as the shortage spread across the region, although supplies started re-emerging in limited numbers by late February.
The retail and hospitality industries have been suffering from anti-extradition protests in 2019 and the US-China trade war. The coronavirus outbreak made things much worse. In January 2020, retail sales fell over 21% from a year earlier, led by jewellery, watches, clocks, and clothing.
Soho was hard hit with many restaurants and bars closing as owners can no longer handle the high rents amidst falling patronage. This is quite evident along the escalator ride up from Central, as well as the epicentre of the bar district along Staunton, Elgin, and Old Bailey Streets.