Another crowded bar in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui area has been raided by police, who this time cornered 64 patrons who now face court summonses for violating new coronavirus regulations banning gatherings larger than four.
The pub's operator, meanwhile, was arrested for ignoring the government-mandated shutdown of the city's bars, making him the fourth person charged under the emergency measure since the 14-day closure went into effect last Friday. He will appear in Kowloon City Court on April 16.
According to a police source, the bust on Haiphong Road, which took place at about 3am on Wednesday, came just ahead of a planned five-day sweep of area bars, many of which are believed to have triad ties.
"More than 200 officers … will inspect entertainment venues that are controlled by triads during the operation," the source said, adding that dozens of venues were being targeted.
He also said many of the venues, most of which are located on upper floors, were experiencing increased turnout amid the bar shutdown.
Wednesday's raid was the second such police operation in Tsim Sha Tsui in just 24 hours.
At about 3.30am on Tuesday, police rounded up 91 people found crammed into a 1,000 sq ft unlicensed pub on Hillwood Road. They were arrested for drug-related offences and selling or drinking liquor on unlicensed premises.
The operator of the pub was later charged with violating the emergency shutdown measure - initiated under the city's Prevention and Control of Disease ordinance - while he and three staff members were also prosecuted for selling liquor on unlicensed premises.
The 87 customers were released on bail, pending further investigation. None have been charged, but are required to report back to police later this month.
The 14-day ban on public gatherings of more than four people that took effect on March 29 is among a series of new government measures designed to combat the spread of Covid-19.
On Sunday, six residents at a Kwai Chung public housing estate were fined HK$2,000 each when they gathered for a game of chess in breach of social-distancing laws, marking the city's first prosecutions under the public gatherings ban.
About 24 hours later, police issued HK$2,000 tickets to 13 more people found gathering at Sha Kok Estate in Sha Tin.
At about 11am on Tuesday, six men aged 69 to 79 were fined by police after being found gathering under a flyover in Mong Kok.
Under the new regulations, people who take part in a prohibited gathering may be subject to a HK$2,000 fine, while those who organise or allow the gathering face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a HK$25,000 fine.
As of midnight on Wednesday, officers from various departments had carried out 17,909 inspections, leading to 2,213 verbal warnings and 25 fines under the new regulations.
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