Dozens marking Yuen Long thug attack fined over ban

Top News | Justin Tong 23 Apr 2020

Thirty-six people were fined HK$2,000 each for breaching the gathering ban when they assembled on Tuesday night to mark the nine months since white-shirt thugs attacked protesters at the MTR Yuen Long station.

The same rule - not more than four people gathering in public - was used by police to fine seven onlookers the fixed penalty when they gathered around a street stall holding anti-fugitive bill signs while distributing masks in Mong Kok on Saturday.

The assembly in Yuen Long saw about 50 protesters in black gather at the atrium of Yoho Mall at 7.30pm.

The first batch of six people was fined in Fau Tsoi Street at about 11pm. Two first-aiders said they were chatting with two other pedestrians when police brought two more people to them and fined all six.

Four more people were fined on Yau San Street an hour later.

At around midnight, another first-aider claimed he was fined on the same street when he was ordering a takeaway meal alone. He is considering asking the restaurant for security footage as evidence.

As part of the social distancing laws to combat the pandemic, the ban forbids gatherings of more than four people, and will be enforced until May 7.

Apart from the fine, offenders can face up to six months in jail.

Riot police began checking pedestrians in the district from 8pm on Tuesday. At a minibus station in Fung Cheung Road, more than 10 people were frisked, including two children.

Some who had "press" printed on their clothes were also searched at the Kin Lok Street playground.

Meanwhile, two men - aged 21 and 22 - were arrested for obstructing police on the Yuen Long section of Castle Peak Road after they were pepper-sprayed by the officers. A 23-year-old woman was charged for failing to show her identity document.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung said he filed two motions yesterday to amend the anti-gathering ban and social-distancing restrictions on restaurants, questioning the fairness of police enforcement.

If passed, the motions would allow the Legislative Council to propose an earlier expiry date for the two social-distancing laws, as well as forbid police officers from inspecting restaurants.

Hui said the amendments were in response to excessive use of the ban by police.

"I have received many complaints that the officers were abusing the regulation over yellow [anti-fugitive and anti-police] restaurants," Hui said. Food and Environmental Hygiene Department inspectors should conduct the enforcement instead, he added.

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