(5 Oct 2019) With subway services shut down, the wearing of face masks criminalized at rallies and Hong Kong’s leader reaffirming her determination not to let rioters get the upper hand, anti-government protests that have shaken the city diminished in intensity Saturday but didn’t stop.
Marchers still came out to defy the new ban on face coverings that the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory says have made the identification of violent protesters difficult for police.
Shielded under umbrellas, many wearing masks, several hundred demonstrators clogged a thoroughfare in the central business district, carrying a yellow banner marked “Glory to Hong Kong” and shouting, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
Scattered gatherings of protesters in masks popped up elsewhere, too, with some holding hands in a human chain.
But protester numbers Saturday afternoon appeared down from previous weekends when tens of thousands flooded the streets.
A combination of factors seemed to be at work.
Some marchers said the protest movement that has plunged Hong Kong into its deepest crisis since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997 was merely harbouring strength for the long haul.
The closure of the entire MTR network of subway and trains that habitually handles more than 4 million trips a day also caused major disruption to the usually never-resting but now edgy and restive city of 7.5 million people.
An express link to Hong Kong international airport also closed for a while before reopening with reduced service Saturday afternoon.
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