Pro-democracy politicians on Tuesday slammed the Hong Kong government’s decision to maintain the four-person limit on public gatherings, accusing it of exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic for political reasons.
The Labour Party members said the government was depriving citizens of their freedom of assembly and their right to demonstrate on the city’s streets. Authorities have frequently banned or broken up protests after citing coronavirus curbs.
The government earlier Tuesday announced a relaxation of social distancing measures, allowing domestic tours of up to 30 to resume operations. But it did not extend the four-person limit on public gatherings that has been in place since September 8.
The party staged a four-person protest outside the Eastern Law Courts in Sai Wan Ho. Members held a banner displaying the phrases “Oppression in the name of pandemic measures,” “I have the right to protest,” and “No to depriving citizen’s rights by abusing the group gathering ban.”
The group included District Councillor Tsang Kin-shing and the party vice-president, veteran pro-democracy activist Leung Kwok-hung who is commonly known as “Long Hair.”
Members of the pro-democracy party also vowed not to pay fines they have incurred for breaching the gathering ban since the beginning of the pandemic and said they would continue to contest them in court.
Several police officers were also present at the scene.
Labour Party members have collectively received over 40 fines for breaching social distancing measures. Around seven party members, including Leung, have outstanding fines from the end of April.
Individuals found to be violating the gathering ban are subject to a HK$2,000 fine.
Hong Kong has seen a low number of Covid-19 infections in recent weeks, with fewer than 20 daily cases since September 20. The city reported 15 new infections on Tuesday, one of which was a locally transmitted case with an untraceable source.
The city of 7.5 million has been far less hard hit than many other locations, with 5,262 infections and 105 deaths.