Trapped in Tai Po: McDonald's runs out of buns and hash browns and supermarket shelves are bare as Hong Kong protests limit supplies to one town

South China Morning Post Dipublikasikan 07.11, 15/11/2019
Trapped in Tai Po: McDonald's runs out of buns and hash browns and supermarket shelves are bare as Hong Kong protests limit supplies to one town

Residents in one Hong Kong town have been hit hard by the anti-government protests sweeping the city this week " their local McDonald's is running out of food.

With radicals bringing major roads, tunnels, and the rail system to a standstill this week, people have struggled to get in or out of the New Territories, leaving places such as Tai Po in semi-isolation.

Restaurants and supermarkets have run low on supplies too, and residents hoping to get breakfast at their local McDonald's on Thursday discovered the only items on the menu were pancakes or macaroni.

A staff member at the chain's location in Kwong Fuk Estate said they had run out of some buns, including Sausage McMuffins, and hash browns, but managed to get more from other locations on Thursday night. They expected to run out again, he said, and on Friday morning ran out of macaroni and some McMuffins.

Tai Po residents wait for buses and minibuses as they try to leave the town. Photo: Facebook

"The traffic has affected our trucks getting into the district," the staff member said. "The manager appealed to other shops nearby and was able to get some supplies last night. But they might run out of stock anytime if no new supplies come in."

For the six McDonald's branches in the Tai Po district, two of them, in Kwong Fuk and Fu Shin Estate, had shortages on Friday morning.

A staff member said this might be because of the different delivery times of stock to different locations.

People wanting to eat at home also faced difficulties, with local grocery stores running out of eggs, bread, rice, and cakes.

"Some local restaurants have been closed or are out of food, since no trucks could come into the district and bring new supplies," said Tommy Chan, 30, a local resident. "McDonald's are affected with much of their food sold out, supermarkets' shelves are empty, since people rushed in and cleared the stocks on Tuesday."

He said the only way residents could get out of Tai Po was to travel to either Sheung Shui or Fanling, and from there travel along Fan Kam Road " a narrow, uphill road " to reach Kowloon without being stuck in traffic jams.

"I have skipped work for the past three days, and got to leave Tai Po and stayed at a hotel in Tsing Yi on Thursday night in order to get to work this morning in Tung Chung," Chan said.

"I am not blaming anyone, I just hope people and the government could understand the situation and try to offer help."

On Hong Kong Island, business are also being impacted, with one small bakery in North Point only able to produce three trays of buns and egg tarts on Friday morning, as its usual delivery of flour had been unable to reach it.

An employee at the restaurant next door, which the bakery supplies bread to, said the flour delivery usually came from Tai Po.

On Thursday, three supermarkets in Tai Po were crowded with housewives and domestic helpers, who had struggled to shop for daily necessities the previous day because most businesses were closed.

Even though some food products were out of stock, shoppers and business managers said the situation had already improved.

At about 5pm, long queues were seen in an outlet of ParknShop on Tai Wing Lane, Tai Po, although shelves that usually held rice and meat were mostly empty.

One shopper said a couple of supermarkets which remained open on Wednesday evening had sold out of staples such as eggs, rice, bread, and cakes.

The woman, who only wished to be known as Or, said rice and egg were still not available.

"I want to buy a bit more today after seeing the situations yesterday when the shelves were empty," she said. "I was worried about what I could do if the situation continued today. But it seems normal now."

Shoppers flocked to supermarkets in Tai Po as supplies began to run low. Photo: Kanis Leung

Major roads in Tai Po have been hit by heavy congestion after Chinese University became the site of intense clashes between protesters and police, with hundreds of petrol bombs thrown, and thousands of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets fired.

On Thursday, lanes in both directions of Tolo Highway near the school, and Tai Po Road-Ma Liu Shui were temporary blocked or closed.

A shop manager, who did not want to give his name, said shoppers had bought more rice than usual, with some grabbing three or four packs.

He said supplies of some rice brands had run short, but the situation was improving.

"The supplies for the coming days might still be generally normal, depends on the logistics. They have to divert, delays are expected, " he said.

Additional reporting by Zoe Low

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