Hong Kong’s first socially distanced entertainment hub opens doors

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s first socially distanced outdoor entertainment hub opened its doors to the public on Tuesday (Nov 10) in an attempt by the entertainment industry to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located at the harbour front of the Central district, the hub – called The Grounds – has 100 enclosed areas that seat two to four people each.

There is a gap of 1.5m between each enclosure, so groups are kept at a safe distance from each other.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of entertainment programmes, including live performances and an outdoor cinema.

On Tuesday, groups of viewers gathered for an outdoor screening of the movie Jaws, a 1975 classic about a great white shark terrifying a beach community.

Hong Kong Outdoor Cinema
Hong Kong’s first socially distanced outdoor entertainment hub opened its doors to public on Nov 10, 2020, as the events and entertainment industry adjusts to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: AP/Vincent Yu)

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“It’s been a long hard year locked inside for the majority of it, so it’s nice to be able to sit outside with some friends, have a drink, enjoy the film,” said Beth Hackney, who was watching the movie.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging time for the entertainment industry, according to Simon Wilson, managing director of The Grounds.

“We had to really rethink and be creative about a solution we can find to address the challenges of COVID-19,” he said. “We have to reinvent, reiterate and rejuvenate the events industry with clever concepts that can deliver safe entertainment for consumers to enjoy.”

The outdoor park, which is scheduled to operate for just two months, has implemented health measures including online pre-registration, health declarations, temperature checks, mandatory face masks, and hand sanitisers at each entry and exit point.

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“The whole consumer market has shrunk due to the pandemic but it doesn’t mean all consumer products are affected,” said Eugene Law, business development director of China Galaxy International Securities.

“For example, luxury spending has shrunk but entertainment and especially food and beverage have not.”

As such, businesses should be creative and come up with concepts such as outdoor parks or staycations and build up a long-term strategy, he said.

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