Aimed at quelling anti-government protests, Hong Kong's government is seriously mulling to announce a ban on wearing face masks at public gatherings, says a local TV channel report.
Officials plan to slap a series of stringent laws to weaken the public gatherings and protests. Apart from the face mask ban, a clutch of new stringent laws are expected to be announced on Friday after a meeting of the Executive Council, a local TV channel TVB reported. The other emergency laws include giving government greater authority to make arrests, censoring publications and searching premises. The laws would grant Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, the authority to "make any regulations whatsoever.
With this, the practice among the agitators to hide their identity behind masks can be stopped forever thus weakens the strength of the protests. The legislation, called the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, has not been used for over 50 years.
Hong Kong's protests started in June, sparked by proposals to extradite suspected criminals to mainland China. Critics feared this could undermine the city's judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
In recent weeks, the unrest has taken a more violent turn. An Indonesian journalist has been left permanently blinded in her right eye by a rubber bullet said to have been fired by police on Sunday. On Tuesday, an 18-year-old protester was wounded when a police officer fired a live bullet into his shoulder.