Health chief and police warn Pokemon-playing hordes to behave
Police also urge players to notify the force if they want to organise large gatherings in public
Hit mobile game Pokemon Go has made authorities wary of crazed fans who may affect public order and disrupt vital services.
In a double warning on Saturday, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man and a senior police official put gamers on notice to behave.
Alan Lau Yip-shing, the force’s director of operations, stressed the issue of safety when using social networking sites and mobile applications.
In an interview with RTHK, he said he hoped fans would be more aware of their surroundings when preparing large game-related events in public, and recommended they liaise with police at such times so officers could be deployed.
Ko said patient safety was the top priority when it came to hospitals. He added: “I also urge the public to avoid playing the game in hospitals as this will disrupt functions.” The Hospital Authority had contacted the game’s developer in a bid to ban virtual characters and game items from public medical facilities.
Concerns were raised as fans sought to gather in crowded places such as Mong Kok, “to catch Pikachu [a popular character in the game]”.
Over the past few nights, hundreds of gamers had overrun locations such as Wong Tai Sin and Tai Po Waterfront Park to find the so-called pocket monsters.
On Saturday night, hundreds of Pokemon hunters converged at Morse Park in Wong Tai Sin and Tai Po Waterfront Park again – running, cheering, jumping over barriers to spot the virtual monsters. A highly coveted dragon character, Dragonite, was reportedly spotted outside Mong Kok police station, with an estimated 500 hunters gathering.
“I noticed some groups on social media asking people to play the game and gather as a crowd. We will continue to monitor this ... We might arrange an appropriate amount of manpower to assist [at] the gatherings,” Lau said.
“If any groups are preparing public [Pokemon] events, they should contact police as soon as possible.”
Pokemon hunters had already been told to stay clear of police stations.
Under the Public Order Ordinance, gatherings of more than 50 people require police notification. A police spokesman refused to clarify whether officers would intervene when there are groups of more than 50 people however.
The warnings come as the Education Bureau also urged the game’s developer not to put virtual characters and items on campuses after teachers and parents complained that this may distract students and affect their learning.