Opinion | What’s Mightier Than the Coronavirus? A Freshly Killed Chicken

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HONG KONG — The other day, craving a bowl of fish ball noodle soup, I went to eat lunch at On Lee, a famous 54-year-old hole-in-the-wall on Hong Kong Island. I hadn’t been there since the start of the pandemic.The cashier at the door, instead of greeting me with the usual efficient nod and asking, “How many people?”, pointed a temperature gun at my forehead before even allowing me to step inside.In Hong Kong, where space is at a premium and mom-and-pop restaurants operate on a paper-thin margin, diners typically share tables with strangers. This is part of the fun of the Hong Kong eating experience: As you rubberneck you see what other people have ordered and occasionally strike up cross-table talk.But that day the chatter was muffled, and no bowls of roasted chili oil were being passed across the table. The owners had installed movable plexiglass partitions, as per the latest regulations, to keep customers apart and conversational droplets away.Before Covid-19, there was SARS, in 2002-3. And before that, the bubonic plague, smallpox, leprosy, rabies and bird flu. Infectious diseases have been part of Hong Kong life at least since the territory was colonized by …

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