Domestic workers among dozens issued $5,000 social distancing fines as police step up patrols

Authorities reminded foreign domestic workers to follow social distancing rules in Mong Kok and Central on Dec. 29, 2020. Photo via the Hong Kong government’s Information Services Department
Authorities reminded foreign domestic workers to follow social distancing rules in Mong Kok and Central on Dec. 29, 2020. Photo via the Hong Kong government’s Information Services Department

Authorities issued 43 social distancing fines, each carrying a penalty of HK$5,000 (US$645), while patrolling gathering spots popular among foreign domestic workers Sunday.

In places including Tamar Park in Admiralty, Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, and the Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui, government personnel passed out leaflets and broadcast announcements to remind domestic workers of the restrictions in place.

The enforcement action was conducted to ensure compliance with anti-epidemic regulations, including a mandatory mask law and a ban on gatherings larger than two.

In a statement, authorities said fines were handed to “those who still refused to abide by the regulations after repeated reminders.”

Police told Coconuts it does not have a figure as to how many of the 43 social distancing fines were issued to domestic workers.

Since Hong Kong implemented social distancing regulations to curb the spread of the coronavirus earlier this year, authorities have been accused of appearing to target domestic workers while turning a blind eye to crowded shopping malls, hiking trails, and other places where local Hongkongers tend to gather on weekends.

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the fixed fine was doubled in December to HK$5,000 (US$645), a prohibitive amount for domestic workers whose minimum salary is HK$4,630 (US$597) a month.

Read more: 14 Hong Kong domestic workers fined HK$2,000 for violating social distancing laws

While there have been cases traced to boarding houses where domestic workers live, most recently with a December cluster at a Tai Po dormitory involving 14 infections, the city has since not seen any large-scale outbreaks involving the domestic worker community.

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