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Prominent activist Ventus Lau stood outside a restaurant this week, handing out surgical masks and asking recipients to shout pro-democracy slogans — including the popular rallying cry “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times!”

For Lau, who has organized some of the biggest anti-government protests since they began last June, the demonstrations are on hold as fear of a new coronavirus in neighboring China keeps the city’s 7.4 million avoiding large crowds. But he says frustration over the government’s handling of the public health crisis will fuel even more support for the protest movement after the virus scare subsides.

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