Hong Kong’ government is to extend the current coronavirus social distancing measures until China’s National Day on October 1, amid online calls for a protest march on that day.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday the Covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong has eased gradually after a third wave of infections in July. But she said citizens should not let their guard down, as seven infections with unknown sources were recorded over the past week.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“In other words, there are still invisible virus transmission chains in the community,” she told a press briefing before an Executive Council meeting.

As of Monday, Hong Kong had registered 5,038 coronavirus infections, with a death toll of 103. Some restrictions were lifted last Friday, including raising the limit on public gatherings from two to four people and reopening bars, pools and theme parks. But Lam said the existing measures would remain in place for another week starting this Friday.

“To prevent the pandemic from bouncing back, the owners of these premises must have self-discipline and strictly follow the anti-epidemic measures… our relevant departments will strengthen the enforcement of the law,” she said.

October 1 National Day Causeway Bay protest Day of Mourning
Protest scenes in Causeway Bay on October 1, 2019. Photo: Studio Incendo.

The social distancing measures would still be in force on October 1, a day which commemorates the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Some Hong Kong netizens have called for a march in Tsuen Wan to “mourn” National Day, protesting against the Beijing-enacted national security law and the detention in mainland China for almost a month of 12 Hongkongers arrested at sea while trying to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat.

The planned demonstration also intends to protest against what it calls police brutality after a demonstrator was shot with a live round during the citywide protests on National Day last year. Teenager Tsang Chi-kin, who appeared to be carrying a rod, was shot at close range as he clashed with riot police in Tsuen Wan.

The bullet hit the 18-year-old in his left lung, three centimetres from his heart. Police later said the officer involved “had no choice” but to fire. Tsang had planned to file a claim for personal injury against the force, but his application for legal aid was rejected last month when the legal aid department said police use of force at the time was reasonable.

October 1 china extradition march
On October 1, 2019, a protester throws eggs at a photo of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Organisers of the planned march said they would not apply to police for a letter of no objection and people should evaluate the risks of taking part.

The MTR Corporation has announced that overnight train services would not be provided on October 1, which is also the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival this year. The railway company said it had conducted a risk assessment with relevant government departments.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.