On a recent phone call with a friend, who had moved to Hong Kong for work in the summer of 2019, I was made privy to a rather interesting account of his first night out on the town in nearly two months. I asked, almost immediately: Has eating out changed drastically? He replied: “There are cops everywhere. It might have been an ominous sign a few months ago, what with the protests and everything, but it’s now part of daily life here since restaurants started opening for business.” Hong Kong has migrated from a state of protest to pandemic, with police manning the streets not to break up a protest but to enforce social distancing rules. Hong Kong, along with other Asian cities like Seoul and Taipei, has been largely successful in controlling Covid-19 outbreaks, and has now allowed its restaurants to stay open even as life limps back to normal. It begs the question: Could plastic partitions between tables, masks, temperature checks, and awkward bar vibes offer us a glimpse into the future of dining?
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