Hong Kong to ban face masks, invoking emergency rule for first time since 1967

An escalation by the Hong Kong government.

Jason Fan| October 03, 05:05 PM

Hong Kong will ban face masks at public gatherings, invoking an emergency ordinance for the first time since 1967, according to Bloomberg.

This move came shortly after an 18-year-old was shot at close range by a police officer on Oct. 1, which is the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China's founding in Beijing.

The law will be enacted on Oct. 4

Bloomberg cited TVB, saying that the government will enact the Emergency Regulations Ordinance after a special meeting of the city's Executive Council on Oct. 4.

This was following pro-China lawmakers in Hong Kong calling for a ban on wearing masks at public gatherings, stating that this would prevent protesters from hiding their identity from police officers.

The invoking of emergency powers would indicate a dramatic escalation by the current government, which has been struggling to deal with the increasingly violent protests that started in June earlier this year.

Emergency powers last invoked in 1967

The Emergency Regulations Ordinance was first passed in 1922 by the British government, in order to end a seamen's strike in Hong Kong.

It was last used more than half a century ago, in 1967, when it was invoked to put down a series of large-scale riots between Communist sympathisers and the colonial government.

The law, which grants the government emergency powers, allows it to arrest citizens, censor publications, shut off communications networks, and search premises without warrants, among other measures.

It also allows authorities to implement "any new regulations whatsoever which he may consider desirable in the public interest."

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Top image from HKFP.