Police arrested a man in Mong Kok on Sunday afternoon, when two activist groups held street booths calling for a boycott of the government’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app.

mong kok street booth arrest
A 29-year old man has been arrested by police. Photo: Hospital Authority Employees Alliance via Facebook.

Activist groups Student Scholarism and the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) held street booths calling for a boycott of the LeaveHomeSafe app over concerns of increasing government surveillance under the pretext of pandemic contact tracing.

Diners are invited to use the government’s LeaveHomeSafe mobile application to register their visits to restaurants and other venues for the purpose of Covid-19 contact tracing. But there have been concerns over privacy and surveillance issues surrounding the app, leading many to opt out and hand over their details on paper instead. The government has rejected calls to make the app’s source code available to show data it has been collecting but has stated that the app complies with privacy rules.

The activists’ booths were set up at the intersection between Sai Yeung Choi Street South and Soy Street in Mong Kok on Sunday at around 5pm. Police arrived on the scene about an hour later and warned people that they may have violated social gathering limits under Covid-19 social distancing rules. They ordered them to disperse.

Police then surrounded the groups with cordon tape, and at one point displayed a purple flag warning crowds against violating national security law, the Stand News reported.

A video posted to HAEA’s Facebook page showed a police officer crossing a cordon as he pressed a man in the crowd to the ground. The man was not a member of the two groups, an HAEA spokesperson said.

mong kok street booth arrest
Photo: Hospital Authority Employees Alliance via Facebook.

Police later confirmed that a 29-year old man surnamed Tang had shouted slogans and refused to follow police orders to leave the area.

Tang was warned by police that he may have violated social distancing rules, which limit gatherings to groups of four. He attempted to escape and was suspected to have assaulted an officer using his hand, police said.

He was arrested and detained on suspicion of committing misconduct in a public place, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. The officer was sent to a hospital owing to arm and chest pains.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.