Hong Kong police patrolled areas frequented by domestic workers on Sunday, issuing HK$2,000 fixed penalties to enforce social distancing measures during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Officers conducted enforcement actions in Central and Causeway Bay throughout the weekend and made public announcements with megaphones to promote the ban on group gatherings of more than two people. Some officers brought giant rulers to measure whether each group of two were maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres, as others distributed leaflets about compulsory mask wearing in public.

Photo: Hong Kong police.

Sunday is the traditional day off for Hong Kong’s 400,000-odd foreign domestic workers who normally live with their employers . Many meet up and gather on sidewalks and in public spaces.

The police said on Facebook that they issued 11 penalty tickets as of 6pm on Sunday. The HK$2,000 fixed fine amounts to nearly half of the the domestic workers’ minimum monthly wage of HK$4,630.

Photo: Hong Kong police.

Indonesian domestic worker Sringatin told HKFP that she felt domestic workers were being singled out: “I feel very angry that the Hong Kong government intentionally mobilises police and other authorities to target the migrant domestic worker community. It is a shame that, instead of providing us with some space to rest, they want to project us as the Covid-19 spreader and treat us as though we are criminals.”

Photo: Hong Kong police.

Last week, fears arose that employment agencies’ boarding facilities may represent a Covid-19 cluster. Usually, 20 or more foreign domestic workers share the same residential unit.

First detected in Hubei, China, almost 20 million people globally have been infected with Covid-19, whilst over 731,000 have died from the SARS-like disease according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Hong Kong has seen over 4,000 confirmed cases and 54 deaths.

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.