Hong Kong courtroom guidelines masks ban constitutional for all public conferences


© Reuters. Anti-government protesters adjust their masks during a protest at Wong Tai Sin district, in Hong Kong


HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s highest court on Monday ruled the city’s government had the right to invoke colonial-era emergency powers last year to ban the wearing of masks at all public processions and meetings during the height of 2019’s protests.

During the anti-government protests which have largely died down, many demonstrators wore masks to hide their identities from authorities and to protect themselves from tear gas.

Surgical masks have also long been common in the financial hub for when people are sick and the ruling comes at a time when Hong Kong people are mandated to wear masks to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Court of Final Appeal went further than a lower-court decision in April which upheld the government’s right to impose emergency measures but ruled the mask ban was unconstitutional.

Opposition lawmakers and activists in the former British colony lodged a judicial review on the anti-mask law last year.

Joshua Wong, 24, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists, was arrested for allegedly breaching the anti mask law and his participation in an unlawful anti-government rallies in 2019.

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