Hong Kong government invokes emergency powers to ban wearing masks at protests

Some questions come to mind following the announcement of a ban on wearing masks in Hong Kong.
Central Rally

Hong Kong ‘not in a state of emergency’, says city leader Carrie Lam as she introduces anti-mask law (SCMP):

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 in Central on 4 October

Protesters take to the street in Central, Hong Kong, minutes after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the mask ban on 4 October.

Cam Macmurchy

Hi! My name is Cam MacMurchy. I was born and raised in Canada and worked as a journalist before moving to China in 2004.

Today I work in Hong Kong as the Vice President of Corporate Communications of a listed company. I write about marketing, communications, and journalism, as well as technology and productivity, and anything else on my mind! I also occasionally contribute to 9to5Mac, one of the top Apple websites in the world, and run Executive Productivity. Contact me anytime.