Hong Kong election postponed for a year ‘over virus concerns’.

Hong Kong is to postpone September’s legislative election by one year owing to a resurgence in untraceable coronavirus cases, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Friday.

The leader will invoke the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to hold off the vote – a decision she said was supported by Beijing.

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“The announcement I have to make today is the most difficult one I have had to make in the past seven months,” she said at a press conference. “It is a really tough decision to delay the election, but we want to ensure public safety and health, and to make sure the elections are held in an open and impartial manner. The decision is therefore essential.”

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The unprecedented delay came amid added scrutiny over the disqualification of at least a dozen democratic hopefuls the day before. Activists, NGOs and foreign politicians have decried the move as part of a wide-reaching crackdown under Beijing’s newly implemented national security law for the city.

Lam said the exposure of millions of staff and voters, including vulnerable elderly people, to Covid-19 on polling day threatened to overwhelm the city’s public healthcare system. She added some Hong Kong permanent residents were stranded in mainland China and abroad due to travel restrictions, therefore it would be “impossible” for them to return home to vote.

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