Hardly any security was visible by noon in the area near Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai, where hours later Chief Executive Carrie Lam is to hold a meeting with the public in a bid to end the ongoing extradition bill crisis.

There was no police presence or barriers outside the venue where Lam will hold a two-hour dialogue with 150 selected members of the public from 7pm.

But some institutions near the venue were not taking any chances and had decided to close early, while others said they would watch the situation closely

The Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education had posted a notice saying that it would close by 12.30pm. Some of the shops in the area had shuttered for the day.

One food shop owner said he planned to end his business early, by 6pm instead of his usual 9pm close. The shop owner predicted that people will be gathering in the area by then and if the police were also around, the situation could get messy, he felt.

But not all had such worries. Tang, a snack stall owner, said Hong Kong is still the safest city and that most demonstrators and police officers are quite restrained. Even the violence that has occurred so far is minimal when compared to what happens in some foreign countries, he said.

Lam had limited her public engagements as the protests escalated and has made only a few unannounced appearances. When she visited an elderly home recently, a number of armed police officers had to be posted in the area for fear of protests.

Media reports have said thousands of police officers will be on stand-by for Thursday’s event to control the situation if needed. Some students at nearby schools were planning to hold human chains later in the evening.