HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year fairs, usually an opportunity to sell creative merchandise critical of the government alongside festive foods and decorations, are subdued this year amid coronavirus restrictions and a sweeping national security law.
But protests evaporated as the coronavirus pandemic prevented large gatherings. Then China imposed a sweeping national security law in June and Hong Kong authorities began arresting activists and opposition politicians.
Crowd controls were in place and temperature checks were mandatory.“Next year I hope everything will be better,” said Peter Luk, 63, a retiree shopping at Victoria Park. “We should have all sorts of things - political merchandise, things to eat, toys and flowers, everything.”
“It’s nice, it’s very peaceful,” Zhou said. “It’s the spring festival, nobody wants any conflict and anything political.”
Hong Kong plans to ease some of its coronavirus restrictions starting Feb. 18, re-opening sports and entertainment facilities and extending dining hours to 10 p.m. from the current 6 p.m.
The city of 7.5 million people has recorded around 10,700 infections and 188 deaths since January last year.