Hong Kong protests: Police could remove Halloween make-up, as anti-government protesters plan to head to Lan Kwai Fong

Christy Leung and Clifford Lo

People could be asked to remove paint from their face if it is completely covered and makes identification difficult

Christy Leung and Clifford Lo |

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Party-goers in Lan Kwai Fong will be asked to remove make-up if it hinders identification on Thursday night, a senior police officer said.

Party-goers celebrating Halloween could be forced to wipe off their face paint if they look suspicious, according to police, and undercover officers will be in the crowds watching out during tonight's planned protests against the Hong Kong government's mask ban.

Anti-government activists called for a march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Lan Kwai Fong in Central – where the large Halloween party is an annual fixture – and for participants to wear masks featuring the faces of government officials.

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A senior police source said officers would be stationed on the outskirts of the city’s nightlife district to stop and search anyone suspicious, and would ask them to remove all face coverings to check their identity.

“We will be more alert if a person is wearing a big bag, in which weapons or explosive items such as petrol bombs could be stored,” the senior officer said. “We need to see their clear face to verify their identity. They need to remove the masks when that is demanded. If their face is full of paint, we will clean their make-up off.”

He added that the force understood party-goers could “put a scar or wound” on their faces during Halloween, and that officers would only wipe off paint if their face “was completely covered” and making identification difficult.

Even though the mask ban was enacted nearly a month ago, protesters continue to defy the law.
Photo: AFP

It was understood that undercover officers would head to Lan Kwai Fong to watch out for anything suspicious.

The force planned to station about 3,000 riot officers and three water cannons on Hong Kong Island on Thursday night.

Another police source said anti-riot officers would sweep into action in various locations in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Admiralty and Central on Hong Kong Island, and Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok in Kowloon by the evening to prevent protesters from gathering.

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He said if police suspected anyone was involved in an unauthorised assembly, they would also ask them, if necessary, to remove their mask and clean off their make-up. “Those who ignore our order will be in breach of the anti-mask legislation and will face arrest,” he said. The mask law, enacted earlier this month, forbids the wearing of face coverings at public assemblies.
The MTR Corporation said on Wednesday all train services – with the exception of the Airport Express – would stop from 11pm after a risk assessment.
It said Prince Edward MTR station would shut at 2pm and Central station would shut by 9pm on Thursday.
The rail operator also warned that individual stations or entrances could be shut at any time, depending on further risk assessments or if protesters damaged facilities.