Hong Kong’s embattled government has announced plans to ban people from wearing masks at public assemblies, as it struggles to control the increasingly violent civil unrest gripping the city. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s administration, under mounting pressure from its political allies to put a stop to nearly four months of anti-government protests, imposed the ban on Friday through legislation by invoking a tough, colonial-era emergency law that has not been used in more than half a century. Sources have said the new law could entail a jail term of up to one year or a fine of HK$25,000, and would apply to lawful assemblies as well.
Blocking traffic, throwing Molotov cocktails, setting fires, vandalizing MTR stations, and hurling bricks at police station windows are also illegal, so why would protesters suddenly obey this law?
Furthermore, police are usually badly outnumbered and struggle to arrest even the most violent of protesters. Why do they think they’ll be able to arrest potentially thousands more people illegally wearing masks?
Protesters take to the street in Central, Hong Kong, minutes after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the mask ban on 4 October.