With the fifth wave of COVID-19 hitting Hong Kong in late December, the city has shut down many sports and recreational spaces, including gyms, tennis courts and playgrounds, for months.
Undeterred by the social distancing restrictions, some residents have found creative ways to relax and exercise.
Hong Kong-based photographer Ben Marans has documented their stories in his latest collection shot from January to March.
“The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has put up these red and white tapes at parks and recreational spaces, telling people they are not allowed to use [the facilities],” says Marans.
But as he has observed, just because they are closed off does not mean that residents do not need the public spaces.
“We all need to play,” he quips, adding how it was interesting for him to see people changing and using these spaces in new ways.
When he saw how a granny decided she just wanted to exercise and pushed away the tape to ride a bicycle in a public park, he quickly pressed the shutter button.
Marans was also intrigued by how people found new use for a basketball court with no hoops.
“It’s like the people are saying, ‘They took away the basketball hoops, but nobody said I cannot lift weights and skateboard here,” says the photographer.
The Canadian native — who has been living in Hong Kong for almost four years — is keen to explore the stories of the regular people and the everyday happenings on the streets.
One he has been especially drawn to is the story of how small businesses, like gyms — which have been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions — adapt.
“Here you can see two guys doing Thai boxing in front of the Victoria Park Swimming Pool,” says Marans.
“It’s not just recreation, but also about how businesses have pivoted to stay alive.”