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HK remains virus-free for 4th straight day as protest plans loom

29 April 2020

By The SUN

Last year's May Day rally: organizers say they can maintain social distancing even while marching

Hongkongers might be getting a respite from the spread of the coronavirus, but they are in for another kind of worry in the coming days, as rights activists clash with police on whether rallies could be held in line with social distancing rules.

An independent appeal board rejected today, Apr 29, a proposal by the Confederation of Trade Unions to hold the usual May Day rally this Friday, May 1.

Appeal board head Christopher Chan said the march could pose a “serious threat” to public health and safety.

This was despite an assurance from the organizer, the Confederation of Trade Union, that they will ask marchers to keep a safe distance of between 2 or 3 meters, or even to wear protective goggles.

CTU chairwoman Carol Ng said a ban on protests would deprive workers of their rights to express how the virus has hit them hard.

But government counsel Louie Chan said the police had the responsibility to ensure that protesters and citizens were not at risk.
“The 3,000 to 3,500 marchers have to assemble at a location for a certain period of time before starting the march,” he said. “Solid evidence shows that the virus can easily spread in crowded places.”
Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love.
After losing the appeal, the CTU said it would set up more than 50 booths, each manned by no more than 4 persons, to disseminate anti-epidemic information and express support for the anti-government movement.

Supporters of the union say the appeal board’s decision set a dangerous precedent, in that police can now stop rallies on the excuse of protecting public health.

The pro-democracy camp is now planning several mass actions ahead of the June 4th anniversary of the crackdown on Tienanmen Square, and the 23rd year since Hong Kong’s handover to China on Jul 1, 1997.

Since last week, several small protests have been held on Hong Kong island, in the wake of the arrests of several prominent pro-democracy leaders.

At noon today, a handful of people resumed their so-called “Lunch With You” protest in Central, after a break of about 4 months. Police dispersed the crowd without making any arrest.

Lunchtime protests are usually held in this part of Central

Meanwhile, today marked the fourth day in a row that no new Covid-19 case was detected in Hong Kong, prompting health authorities to cancel their daily press briefing again.

The total tally stands at 1,037, with the number of confined patients dropping to just 204, after 20 were discharged today after recovering in public hospitals. The death toll remains at 4.

Elsewhere in the world, the virus has continued to spread, with the total global tally of cases now at well over 3 million, with a third of them being recorded in the United States.

However, the daily rate of infection is highest in Russia, with more than 5,000 cases; and Spain with over 4,000.

The death rate, however, has gone down considerably in the past week across most of Europe and the US.

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