Order has been partially restored to the streets of Hong Kong.
Police arrested hundreds of people as protests again flared up on the city’s streets over the weekend after weeks of relative calm since the implementation of a national security law.
Protesters marched through the Kowloon area chanting pro-democracy slogans and barricaded a city street, holding up placards in defiance of social distancing restrictions.
Their main aim was to protest Hong Kong’s delayed legislative council election, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday but has been pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials are starting to ease some social distancing measures as an outbreak in the city has subsided, but gatherings of more than two people are still prohibited.
A total of 270 people were arrested for illegal assembly, and another 19 held for charges including disorderly conduct and obstructing and assaulting police, the Hong Kong police said in a Facebook post.
In a statement, the government condemned the protests, calling them unlawful and “selfish” as they threaten public health.
It also defended the decision to delay the election for a year, warning that the pandemic may persist.
Hong Kong reported the death of a Covid-19 patient on Sunday night, bringing the death toll in the city to 96.
“The epidemic is likely to last for a while – there may also be a winter surge,” the government said, adding that the delay was reasonable because preparation work and voter registration would take months.
Protests have been muted since Beijing imposed a security law on the city in late June, Bloomberg reports.
Tension is rising amid plans by the city to institute a health code that will allow travel between Hong Kong and nearby cities in mainland China, which has raised ethical concerns among medical professionals and fears over increased surveillance among activists.
The government defended the health code on Sunday, saying it would facilitate cross-border travel and boost economic activities.