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A protester wearing a mask joins others at a rally at Tamar Park on Saturday, September 28, to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2014 Occupy movement.
A new law banning people from wearing masks at public assemblies, legal or illegal, in Hong Kong could come into effect as early as midnight on Friday.
The Executive Council, the city leader’s de facto cabinet, was expected to discuss the matter on Friday morning, and members were also likely to discuss whether to introduce a law allowing police to demand people wearing a mask in public remove it, if officers suspect that person is trying to hide their identity.
The special meeting came as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor decides whether to impose the anti-mask law through legislation by invoking a tough, colonial-era emergency law that has not been used in more than half a century.
“Wearing the mask for medical and religious reasons could be exempted. But as long as officers suspect the wearer does so just to hide their identity, police can demand the removal of the mask, or else the person could be subject to arrest and a six-month jail term if convicted,” said a government source.
The source added the law was meant to target people wearing masks who break the law. “It’s not meant to just remove masks from anyone,” they said.