Hong Kong uses emergency powers to ban face masks, rail system breaks down
Hong Kong : Hong Kong is reeling through one of its darkest phases these days. It’s entire mass transit rail system remained suspended on Saturday after a night of violence sparked due to government's decision to ban wearing face masks.
The government banned masks using its emergency powers, which have not been used in more than half a century.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she made the order under the Emergency Regulations Ordinances -- a sweeping colonial-era provision that allows her to bypass the legislature and make any law during a time of emergency or public danger.
"We believe that the new law will create a deterrent effect against masked violent protesters and rioters, and will assist the police" in law enforcement, Lam said on Friday.
The ban came after the worst violence of the year, when China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule on Tuesday. During those clashes, an officer shot and wounded a teenager -- the first such shooting since the demonstrations began. The new law threatens anyone wearing masks at protests with up to one year in prison. For one of those at Friday’s march, the ban would not solve the city’s woes.
“Youngsters are risking their lives,” a 34-year-old office worker wearing a surgical mask, who gave her first name as Mary said. “They don’t mind being jailed for 10 years, so wearing masks is not a problem.”