LINGERING Covid restrictions in Hong Kong are triggering depression and thoughts of self harm among musicians in the city who are struggling to make ends meet as nightlife is targeted by authorities struggling to clamp down on infections, a survey has revealed.
More than half of those who rely on live music spots at the city’s bars, nightclubs and other venues for their income have suffered anxiety and depression with increasing numbers of talented performers planning to leave the city.
A survey of 465 people in the industry, including lead performers, stage crew, sound engineers and event organisers conducted in June found that 56 per cent had experienced depression while 11 per cent experienced suicidal thoughts.
The survey, conducted by the Musicians Foundation charity, follows another carried out in 2021 as professional entertainers in the city were hit by bar and club closures introduced to counter spikes in Covid infection rates.
A third of respondents said they had already left Hong Kong or were considering to do so as issues such as debt and mental health mounted.
Almost everyone in the music industry is triple vaccinated and they have been for a long time. They are so ready… to just get back to work
– Musicians Foundation founder Chris B
“Music industry people contribute hugely to Hong Kong’s status as a world-class centre of arts and culture,” Musicians Foundation founder Chris B said as the survey findings were released.
“If we lose more key creative people as these restrictions continue, a very valuable part of Hong Kong’s arts sector will disappear, making it even harder to reboot the economy and reignite the cultural buzz that gives Hong Kong its special character,” she said.
Chris B, also a musician and indie music promoter, said bar and club entertainers unfairly singled out while musicians at hotels and theme parks continued to perform.
“The government can just follow exactly the same procedure that it does for the other workers in a venue. They require them to be triple vaccinated and do a RAT test every three days… at the bars. So it’s easy enough to do the same thing for people in the music industry,” she told local radio station RTHK.
“Almost everyone in the music industry is triple vaccinated and they have been for a long time. They are so ready… to just get back to work.”
A ruling requiring customers to present proof of a negative Covid test before entering bars and clubs has been extended to July 13.
Bars and nightclubs had been permitted to resume operations from May 19 and operate until 2am. A maximum of four people are allowed per table and the total number of patrons capped at 75 per cent of the venue’s full capacity.