The government has banned ‘dry goods’ stalls from the Lunar New Year fair, leaving food and flowers as the only products that can be sold at the yearly market.
Traditionally, stall owners would sell handicrafts and toys, usually themed around the Chinese zodiac animal for the coming year. Past fairs have also allowed products which have political messages.
However, the fair has been subjected to increasing censorship in recent years, such as the confiscation of thousands of rolls of toilet paper printed with the face of then Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying from the Democatic Party’s market stall in 2015.
The auction for stalls will start on 12 November and the government has lowered the starting bid prices by half due to poor economic conditions.
The six fairs on Hong Kong Island, in Kowloon and in Islands District will provide 573 wet goods stalls and 11 fast food stalls. The fairs will be located at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, Fa Hui Park and Cheung Sha Wan Playground in Sham Shui Po, Morse Park in Wong Tai Sin, Kwun Tong Recreation Ground in Kwun Tong and Tat Tung Road Garden in Tung Chung.
A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said in a press release, “LNY fairs in the past had all along been crowded with people, including elderly people and children. In view of the current social situation, the Government, as the venue management and event organiser, has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the stall owners and visiting members of the public.”
He added, “To safeguard public safety and public order, and to implement crowd control measures more effectively, the FEHD will enlarge the sizes of the 2020 LNY fair stalls to cater for the operational needs of sale of flowers. Public access will also be widened to alleviate the crowding situation. Since the total number of stalls has been reduced, only wet goods stalls for selling flowers will be provided. If circumstances at the venues permit, fast food stalls will also be provided.”