Nearby Victoria Park was put under lockdown from midday, with the force saying the area had been designated off-limits to protect public safety in light of calls online for an unauthorised assembly there.
With the usually annual July 1 march banned for the second year in a row, sources said 10,000 officers would be out on the streets to stamp out any attempted gatherings.
The force cordoned off parts of the shopping district, including Great George Street and East Point Road, with police tents replacing the various commercial street booths usually prevalent in the area.
A man hoping to sell subscriptions for a broadband service was sent packing. He said police had told him to move further away, but it wasn’t a big deal.
A foreign migrant worker was among those stopped by police for a search in the street, while a man dressed in black had his ID checked in Causeway Bay MTR Station.
A resident of the area, who gave his name as Sherman, said he couldn’t see how the heavy police deployment was necessary. But he said he expects to continue to see such large-scale operations whenever there’s a chance of a protest.
“I think there are too many policemen on the streets. I don’t think they need so many here to keep the safety of the people,” he said.
“Most people want to have a peaceful environment for shopping on their holiday. They don’t want so many police looking at them, making them uncomfortable.”
Thursday’s police operation appeared similar to one carried out on June 4 this year. With the previously annual candlelight vigil banned, officers sealed off Victoria Park and stopped people in the area for searches and ID checks.