Police on alert ahead of ban-defying Halloween ‘masquerade’ on Hong Kong Island

Protesters wearing V for Vendetta masks in Causeway Bay ahead of an unauthorized rally on National Day. Photo by Samantha Mei Topp.
Protesters wearing V for Vendetta masks in Causeway Bay ahead of an unauthorized rally on National Day. Photo by Samantha Mei Topp.

Hong Kong police are urging people to stay away from parts of Hong Kong Island on Thursday following calls from protesters to gather for a masked march through the city in celebration Halloween — and in defiance of the city’s controversial ban on face coverings.

According to a protest schedule being shared on LIHKG and Telegram — the communication channels of choice for pro-democracy protesters — there will be a Halloween masquerade party in the form of a march starting at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and ending in the nightlife district of Lan Kwai Fong in Central.

It being Halloween, of course, participants are encouraged to wear masks — technically illegal under the widely panned ban on face masks in public areas introduced at the beginning of this month in a bid to clamp down on long-running anti-government protests.

The plans, meanwhile, haven’t escaped the notice of police, who said in a statement yesterday that they’re aware of the unauthorized gathering. They also urged people to stay away from the island tomorrow evening, saying there was a possibility of “extensive road blockage” in Tin Hau, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Admiralty, and Central, and that police may close roads if necessary.

“Based on past experience, such unauthorised assembly will impose serious threat to public order and public safety,” the statement reads. “Police have already reminded shops in the vicinity to stay tuned to the latest situation and close earlier if necessary so as to tie in with Police operations, ensuring the safety of lives and properties.”

Halloween is often one of the busiest nights for Hong Kong’s bars and clubs, which have taken a hit in recent months thanks to the protests and attendant MTR shutdowns. LKF, in particular, is famously heaving with people in costume waiting to get into bars and clubs.

The question of how the mask ban would be interpreted come Halloween has been on people’s minds practically since it was announced, with netizens quick to deride the provision that “facial covering” includes not only masks, but face paint as well.

Meanwhile, Ming Pao also reported that staff at Ocean Park — whose Halloween-themed attractions have been a draw for holiday revelers — will be monitoring the situation at the theme park amid reports online that some protesters would also be gathering there.

(They’ll also helpfully be handing out make-up removal wipes to help parents and kiddos be in full compliance with the face coverings ban before leaving the park.)


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