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Labour Dept tells FDHs not to gather, even in boarding houses

31 December 2020

By The SUN 

One of the places where FDHs gather on their days off is WorldWide House in Central

The Hong Kong Labour Department has again reminded foreign domestic helpers not to gather, even in boarding houses, ahead of the New Year holiday.

In a statement released today, Dec 31, the LD said: "We remind FDHs to strictly observe the requirements and appeal to them to avoid gatherings (including in boarding facilities), food sharing and other social activities on their rest days and stay at home for rest as far as possible to safeguard their personal health.”

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“We also encourage employers and FDHs to discuss rest day arrangements, so as to minimise the health risk of participating in social activities."

The advisory comes a week after thousands of FDHs gathered in Tamar Park, Admiralty  on Christmas Day, prompting pro-Beijing legislator Elizabeth Quat to call for a ban on large gatherings of migrant workers.

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The call was today slammed by the Mission for Migrant Workers for being “unsympathetic, discriminatory and exploitative.”

“It is very dangerous for Quat as a lawmaker  to put forward such a proposal to ban MDWs (migrant domestic workers) on their rest days,” said the Mission in a statement released today.

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The Mission said such a call would not just fan the anxieties of people in Hong Kong, but would also result in a serious infringement of domestic workers’ rights under the standard employment contract, but also their human rights.

Police often descend on FDH haunts on Sundays to enforce anti-gathering laws

Following Quat’s call, the LD, aided by the police and officers of other concerned departments, stepped up patrols on known FDH haunts last Sunday to remind them about the social distancing protocols.

A total of 43 fixed penalty tickets, each costing $5,000 were issued at the end of the day to violators, at least two of whom were Filipina domestic workers who were found not wearing a mask, one in Statue Square in Central, and another in Tamar Park.

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In the same advisory, the LD reminded employers not to force their FDHs to work on their rest day, which is a right guaranteed to workers by the Employment Ordinance. Anyone found violating the law is liable to prosecution, and on conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000.

In a separate advisory, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department reminded the public to maintain “an appropriate social distance with other people as far as possible” when they visit public venues tonight.

But it's not just FDHs who gather in large numbers, as this photo taken in TST last Christmas shows

They should also observe the two-to-a-group rule, and wear masks at all times in public places while celebrating the New Year.

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The LCSD also warned against littering, saying anyone caught not disposing of rubbish properly is liable to pay a fixed penalty of $1,500.

In its venues frequented by holidaymakers such as the Hong Kong Cultural Centre piazza area, Salisbury Garden and the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, crowd control measures will be put in place.

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There will also be stepped-up patrols at venues to ensure the social distancing regulations are followed.

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