Thousands have joined unplanned protests in Hong Kong after the Midnight government (1
Chief executive Carrie Lam relied on a colonial emergency law to suppress months of unrest against the government.
The ban followed an escalation of violence during protests on October 1, when an officer shot and killed a demonstrator.
Immediately after the announcement of the ban, protesters took to the streets.
Many left work early to join spontaneous demonstrations. Some angry demonstrators blocked roads, lit Chinese flags, and destroyed train stations and shops as the police fired tear gas.
The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) of the territory announced the complete cessation of all trains and almost all bus routes. A spokesman told the BBC that this was due to vandalism and attacks on employees.
- Protests declared in Hong Kong in 100 and 500 words.
- Background information about the protests in Hong Kong others are said to wear masks despite the government, which critics fear will become increasingly authoritarian.
Ms. Lam said she was forced to implement the colonial law because the violence in the weekly protests now would "destroy the city." and she could not let the situation "continue to worsen".
The End of Anonymity
Danny Vincent, BBC News, Hong Kong
Angry demonstrators sang as they marched through the heart of the financial center. They pulled down a banner that marked 70 years of Communist rule and set it on fire in front of a cheering crowd.
Hundreds wore masks against the ban.
Today protesters can legally hide their faces for the last time. Anonymity has become a key element of this movement, but many fear that the introduction of this emergency law could lead to further restrictions.
This protest movement began against a extradition law that has now been withdrawn from the legislature. The application of the emergency law did not have to be done by the legislator.
Carrie Lam insists that the territory is not in a state of emergency, but the law allows her to take further emergency measures.
What was the reaction to the ban?
Observers say regulation will be difficult Force and highly controversial: Critics have warned that the mask ban could be the first in a series of "draconian" measures.
"This is a watershed, this is a Rubicon," said democracy-minded legislator Claudia Mo to news agency AFP. "And I am worried that this could only be a start, and more draconian prohibitions in the name of the law could lurk around the corner."
The announcement has also triggered reactions from outside, with Marta Hurtado, the United Nations human persona spokeswoman for rights stated at a press conference in Geneva that "any restriction has a legal basis and is proportionate and as intrusive as possible have to be".
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said, "Political dialogue is the only way to resolve the situation".
Where does the ban apply?
The ban applies to approved and unauthorized public assemblies – rallies and marches – as well as to unlawful meetings and riots.
The ban applies to all types of face coverings, including facial colors. Demonstrators have increasingly been wearing masks for various reasons, including to hide their identities from employers, parents and, in some cases, the police and protect against tear gas.
There are exceptions for people who wear masks for health reasons or when required by their job.
Ms. Lam said that "violence has escalated to alarming proportions," leading to a situation of "chaos and panic" in the city.
What is the Emergency Ordinance cited by Ms. Lam?
The Emergency Ordinance dates from 1922 and has not been used for more than 50 years.
This allows the Director-General to bypass the normal legislative process where the bills must pass through the city's parliament, the Legislative Council.
The ERO was last used in 1967 to stop riots in the trading center of the area.
Ms. Lam emphasized that the new regulation does not mean that Hong Kong is in a state of emergency. But she said the city was "in serious public danger."
What is the background?
Hong Kong's protests started in June, triggered by proposals to extradite suspected criminals to mainland China.
The extradition law has since been canceled, but the protests have expanded into demonstrations for democracy and police.
Over the months, clashes between police and activists have become increasingly violent. On Tuesday, the police shot for the first time with a sharp ball on a demonstrator in the chest.
According to the authorities, the 18-year-old, who attacked the police and was arrested after a shootout, is in stable condition at the hospital.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997.
] There is a "one-country-two-system agreement" that guarantees him a degree of autonomy and human freedoms, including freedom of assembly and expression.
But these freedoms – the Basic Law – expire in 2047 and it is so unclear what status Hong Kong will have then.