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Chater Rd divide keeps OFWs’ favorite Central haunt a bit tidy

18 January 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Central's Great Divide aims to promote distancing and cleanliness

Parallel barriers were set up two meters apart in the middle of Chater Road on Sunday,  Jan 17, to allow for passage and more orderly occupation by Filipino domestic workers who spend their Sunday on the thoroughfare in Central.

The central partition was a welcome sight for one who has been used to seeing the favorite gathering and resting place of migrant workers taking their day off on Sundays.

Only the section of the road between Statue Square and The Cenotaph war memorial was left open. But it was more crowded this time than in past Sundays, as those displaced by the Chater divide moved to that part.

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By 2 pm, two police vans disgorged officers who descended on Chater Road and walked the length of the street handing out leaflets that reminded the migrant workers of the city’s rules on keeping social distancing and mask-wearing.

Joining the patrol were two staff of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department bearing placards bearing the same anti-virus campaign messages against gatherings of no more than two persons and non-wearing of masks.

Three officers approached a group of Filipinos sitting on carton mats on the roadside and told them to stay apart. They picked a Filipina worker for a random check.

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When asked what they were accosting her for, they said it was just a HKID check.

"No, we are not issuing her a ticket, only checking her ID,” said a female officer. Asked if the police issued any fixed penalty ticket among the immigrant workers who were in Central, the officer said none was ticketed.

Police were still everywhere, but no penalty tickets were issued

Labor Secretary Law Chi-kwong told the Legislative Council last week that during similar patrols from Dec 11 last year to Jan 10, officers had issued 92 fixed penalty tickets. Of these, 65 were issued to foreign domestic helpers.

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The barriers were set up by the authorities obviously in a bid to promote distancing and to tidy up the stretch starting from the Prince’s Building pedestrian crossing to the Pedder St end of the street.

The Pedder St end still looked cluttered as workers continued to assemble and fill door-to-door boxes there as in previous Sundays. But the number has visibly thinned after the Christmas season.

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