Hong Kong police fined 83 people a total of HK$415,000 (US$53,300) on Thursday for breaching the city’s mask mandate, the force revealed on Friday. Officers had carried out 149 inspections across the city and warned 13 people for not wearing a mask in public. Those who flout the city’s Covid-19 rule requiring everyone to wear face masks in public places are subject to a HK$5,000 fine. Seventeen men and six women, aged between 18 and 73, who were among those fined during the operation on Thursday, were caught in Kwai Chung without their masks while smoking on Kwai Yi Road, Kwai Yan Road and the area outside Kwai Fong MTR station. In Tsuen Wan, a 31-year-old man was also fined after he was caught maskless and smoking on Tai Pa Street on Thursday. Meanwhile, 24 people were fined HK$5,000 each for flouting a two-person gathering limit in public places, which was among the city’s coronavirus curbs that came into effect on Thursday. One person was prosecuted for breaching the rule. Officers also issued verbal warnings to 13 people related to the gathering restriction. Police urged the public to follow coronavirus-related curbs to help combat the pandemic and reduce the risk of community infections, saying officers would continue to enforce the rules. Force insiders told the Post on Thursday that frontline police officers had been ordered earlier this week to step up action against those who breached the limit on public gatherings and the mask mandate. One source said that previously officers could exercise discretion and give verbal warnings to maskless people and those who breached the restriction on public gatherings in parks for activities such as exercising. “Now, we will issue a fine to those who breach the rules without reasonable excuses,” he said, adding that smoking was not a reasonable excuse. Meanwhile, Hong Kong recorded a record high of 1,325 new Covid-19 cases on Friday while preliminary infections soared past 1,500. There were 986 new infections on Thursday. Everything you need to know about Hong Kong’s tighter social-distancing rules The city recorded 1,161 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, marking the first time the daily case count surpassed 1,000 since the pandemic began two years ago. Hong Kong has been battling a fifth wave of infections and in a bid to contain the health crisis, the government last month tightened social-distancing rules by banning all dine-in services at restaurants after 6pm. Other stringent regulations, which reduced the number of people who could convene in public from four to two, and restricted private gatherings to two households, also took effect on Thursday.