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. Hong Kong gripped by more protests as CE imposes mask ban

04 October 2019

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor
Lunchtime protest in Central ahead of the announcement of the mask ban

 By The SUN
Protests are ongoing right now, six hours after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam used emergency power to impose a ban on the use of masks at public assemblies, in a bid to stop a civil unrest that is now on its 18th week.

Speaking at a press conference at 3pm after a meeting with the Executive Council, Lam invoked a tough, colonial-era emergency law that has not been used for more than 50 years, to impose the ban from midnight tonight, Oct 5.

The law carries a penalty of one year in jail or $25,000 fine for violators, Security Minister John Lee said.
As CE Lam spoke, thousands of people, many of them workers in the financial sector, poured into the streets of Central, blocking vehicular traffic with barricades.  

A Maxim’s restaurant on Connaught Road had two of its glass windows smashed by protesters. A fire was also burning outside the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce nearby.

After the mask ban was announced, more anti-government protests were reported in several districts, including Kowloon Tong, Whampoa and Tuen Mun, where people have begun setting up roadblocks.
Hundreds of people were also reported to be on their way to the Central Government Offices in Admiralty to show their anger at the mask ban.

Explaining her decision to impose the ban,  Mrs Lam said: “As a responsible government, we have the duty to use all available means in order to stop the escalating violence and restore calmness in society.”  
      
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She said the four-month-old protest had reached a very alarming level of violence, “causing numerous injuries and leading to a chaotic and panic situation”.

She expressed concern that many students are taking part in the protests “or even riots, jeopardizing their safety and even their future.”

She said that she decided to invoke her power under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to order the “Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation”,or  the anti-mask law.

Nighttime protest in Whampoa after the mask ban was announced

 “I would like to emphasize that the decision to invoke the (ERO) is a difficult but also a necessary one for public interest,” Lam said.
But she clarified that: 1) Hong Kong is not in a state of emergency despite being in serious danger; 2) the objective of the regulation is to end violence and restore order; 3) the regulation targets only rioters or those who resort to violence; and 4) it could be subject to negative vetting or rejection when tabled for discussion at the resumption of the Legislative Council session on Oct 16.
        
Lam reiterated her offer to continue a dialogue with the public to find solutions to deep-seated social problems and allow Hong Kong to move forward.
           
At about 1pm earlier, protesters wearing masks gathered on Chater Garden to show opposition to the planned regulation by raising their right hands and shouting “Hong Kong resist”, “Liberate Hong Kong,” “F.. the Popo” and other anti-government slogans.

Police were out of sight as the crowd spilled onto Queen’s Road and moved down the western lane of Des Voeux Road, halting traffic.

The kilometer-long procession turned right on Queen Victoria St towards Exchange Square and IFC 2, then returned to Chater Garden before participants ended the protest and returned to their offices.

But after office hours, the crowds again swelled, blocking all transport routes to the Central financial district. Shops closed early and MTR staff tried to pull down the shutter at one exit but protesters forced it open.
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