Hong Kong protests subside

HONG KONG – Hong Kong civil servants have returned to work at the government’s headquarters as pro-democracy protests, which have paralysed the area for more than a week, subside in the face of a deadline to disperse.

Although numbers dwindled dramatically at the city’s main protest sites on Monday, many said they would return later in the day to resume their campaign for free elections, which has led tens of thousands of people to pour onto the streets.

The government was forced to shut its headquarters on Friday — leaving 3000 civil servants at home — because of the massed ranks of protesters blocking the access roads.

Hong Kong’s embattled leader Leung Chun-ying had insisted the offices must reopen on Monday, warning he would “take all necessary actions to restore social order”.

In fear of a repeat of ugly scenes a week ago when police unleashed tear gas on the crowds, many departed, leaving a committed core of about a thousand who waged a vigil through the night.

As dawn broke, a knot of protesters partially blocked the entrance to the complex with barricades, but kept a narrow section open to allow workers to pass through.