May Day action in Hong Kong, by-passing anti-virus restrictions
A police ban is in place for groups of more than four people with two-metre social distancing required. The pro-democracy Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions set up more than 60 street booths with four people handing out brochures. Hundreds of riot police disperse young people from a Sha Tin mall. Pro-democracy stores and restaurants benefit from the ‘golden week’ shopping spree.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) chose to rally on May Day, this despite a police ban and the imposition of restrictions to contain the coronavirus outbreak, such as limiting gatherings to no more than four people and two-metre social distancing.
For many people, the restrictions are an excuse to stop the development of the pro-democracy movement and halt protests that began last year against a proposed extradition bill.
The HKCTU set up at least 60 street booths, where, starting at 5pm, people could sign up. Initially, it had planned to hold a march with people divided in four lanes, two metres apart.
Later in the evening, hundreds of riot policemen dispersed a group of young people shouting slogans like ‘Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time’ at the Sha Tin New Town Plaza mall (picture 1 and 2). Some visitors and journalists were pepper sprayed by police.
Protests of this kind have occurred in the past few days.
On May Day, people also showed their colours by going to pro-democracy shops and restaurants to help them weather the economic crisis caused by the pandemic in Hong Kong and China.
In China, May Day is the start of a “golden week,” a holiday week with mainlanders traditionally flocking to Hong Kong to shop. Last year, about a million made the trip, but this year, outsiders coming to Hong Kong must undergo a two-week confinement.
So, to compensate for the loss of business, pro-democracy groups have encouraged people to shop at “yellow” stores or restaurants, known for their support for democracy.
Among them, the Agape Garden restaurant opened a special counter selling boxes of egg rolls, tea leaves, books and more. Singer Candy Lo, Lead Singer Sammy So of the local band Kolor and pro-democracy lawmaker Jeffery Tam offered their support as volunteer shopkeepers (pictures 3 and 4).
Photo: Guardians of Hong Kong