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Briefing Paper: Concerning Hong Kong Freedom of Assembly and Association in the Age of Covid-19

Prepared by Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Civil Rights Observer, Hong Kong Civil Hub, and Civil Human Rights Front, this briefing paper summarizes new regulations and measures imposed by the Hong Kong SAR Government in responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Hong Kong by April 7: 935; number of deaths: 4

NO state of emergency announced so far. But the Hong Kong Government invoked section 8 of Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap 599), which empowers the Chief Executive in Council, in an occasion of a public health emergency, to make any regulation to protect public health.

  1. Restrictions to freedom of assembly and association directly related to government new public health regulations
  2. Public health emergency regulations made:
    1. compulsory quarantine for people entering Hong Kong for 14 days
    2. Closure of places such as cinema, arcade and social gathering venue (Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap 599F))
    3. regulate seating plan and distance between customers in restaurants. Max penalty (on restaurant owners): fine and 6 months imprisonment. (Cap 599F)
    4. Ban of gatherings of more than four people, and power to disperse crowd in any public place. Max penalty: fine and 6 months imprisonment (Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap 599G))

Public health emergency regulations are introduced and in force with little to no scrutiny. Against the backdrop of an undemocratic society with deteriorating rule of law, the Hong Kong government has been abusing their power to restrict civic freedom in the names of public health, and the restriction is likely to continue.

Please find the full briefing paper here.

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