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43 people get $5k penalty tickets as police step up patrols on FDH haunts

28 December 2020

By The SUN 

Officers took their publicity campaign to the footbridge in Mongkok where many FDHs gather

Police and teams from various government departments swept through several places where foreign domestic helpers hang out on Sunday, Dec 27, as part of an intensified campaign to enforce social distancing and mask wearing restrictions.

According to a government press release issued at the end of the day, “the vast majority of FDHs and members of the public” had complied with the rules upon advice.

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However, 43 fixed penalty tickets, each costing $5,000, were issued to violators during the joint operations, but the statement did not indicate how many of those penalized were FDHs.

The patrolling teams were made up of the police and staff from the Labour Department, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

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In Central, foot patrols were deployed along Chater Road and other nearby haunts of Filipino workers, and all the way to Tamar Park in Admiralty.

The govt team takes the soft-sell approach to Tamar Park

The government statement said publicity vans were parked near popular FDH gathering places, like Tamar Park, Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, the footbridge near Fa Yuen St in Mongkok, the Cultural Centre in Tsimshatsui, and various places in Central and Tseung Kwan O, to broadcast the reminders at short intervals.

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A separate team made up of the police, officers from the FEHD and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, took the publicity campaign all the way to Tai Lam Country Park in Tai Tong, Yuen Long, where the changing colors of the sweet gum trees attract hordes of people, including FDHs.

The patrols were also in Tai Tong where the sweet gum trees attract hordes of people  

Despite the repeated reminders from the government, however, many FDHs continued to gather in their usual places chatting, playing cards, tinkering with their phones, or drinking alcohol.

A police officer monitoring the operations said no arrests were made, just reminders to the workers gathered on the pavements to observe the anti-pandemic rules.

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But other reports said at least two Filipinas who were caught separately in Central and Admiralty without their masks on were each issued the $5k penalty tickets.

An officer said the mask-less Filipina standing near the old Legislative Council building near Statue Square was not arrested or fined, but was just given a “ticket” and a reminder about obeying the rules.

Another Filipina was filmed in Tamar Park being told off for not wearing a mask. A fellow Filipina who filmed the encounter said the offender was slapped with the $5k penalty ticket, though there was no independent confirmation of the report.

The government statement said the campaign will continue to remind FDHs to strictly observe regulations banning gatherings including in boarding houses, food sharing and other social activities on their rest days, and to rest at home as far as possible.

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It reminded everyone that visitors to country parks must all wear masks and maintain social distancing. In addition, they should keep the countryside clean by properly disposing of their used face masks and other litter.

Anyone who commits a littering offence in a country park area is liable to a fixed penalty of $1,500, said the statement.

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The intensified campaign was launched amid a call from a pro-Beijing legislator to ban weekend gatherings of FDHs, saying this was a risky activity that could get them infected, and could result in them bringing the virus into their employers' home.

But Elizabeth Quat's suggestion was slammed by migrant leader Dolores Balladares-Pelaez as outrageous and discriminatory.

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